Boxing Day occurs the day after Christmas each year, and in modern times it is considered an extension of Christmas celebrations.
|Year||Date||Day||Holiday||Provinces and Territories|
|2019||26 Dec||Thu||Boxing Day||NT, NU & ON|
|2020||26 Dec||Sat||Boxing Day||NT, NU & ON|
The basic “theme” of Boxing Day is giving to others in need or to those who have helped you in some way throughout the year. This particularly applies to employees and anyone who rendered you a business service in the previous year, but it is not limited these groups only.
The Origin of Boxing Day
The origin of Boxing Day is disputed, there being several competing accounts of it, but it seems to have begun in England during the Middle Ages.
Some say it began when workers, who had to work on Christmas, were given the day after Christmas off. Their employers would also give them boxed gifts as they went home to be with their families. This puts a twist on Charles Dickens’ portrayal of poor English workers forced to work on Christmas Day, but then again, Ebeneezer Scrooge probably didn’t give his servants Boxing Day off either.
A competing account of Boxing Day says that collection boxes in churches were used to hold coins donated to the poor. The boxes were opened on December 26th, also the Feast of Saint Stephen, and duly donated to the needy. Whichever theory is correct, in time, giving practices on Boxing Day expanded beyond employees and church charity to include virtually anyone who had rendered help in the prior year.
How Canadians Celebrate Boxing Day
First of all, Canadians carry on the tradition of giving on the day after Christmas. They give out small gift items or bonuses to mailmen, newspaper delivery boys, barbers, house cleaners, gardeners, fire fighters, and more. Some also volunteer at local soup kitchens, food banks, and other charities. Finally, many plan their charitable giving for the year ahead on Boxing day.
Meeting and feasting with family and friends is also an important element. Often, the cuisine includes leftover Christmas turkey, in various forms, stir fries, roasted potatoes, or cold-cut ham.
As for outdoor outings, popular activities include family hikes, scenic walks, boating, skiing, and ice skating. Singing the traditional carol Good King Wenceslaus is also common, and some will attend church for the Feast of Saint Stephen observances. Children will rush to the stores to spend their Christmas money, and the malls are packed, though the smaller shops are typically closed or operate on a reduced schedule.