Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day? Name origins and why we called it Sweetie Scone Day in Scotland

Now widely treated as a day to recover from the excesses of Christmas Day, Boxing Day has origins dating back to the Middle Ages.

There are, however, conflicting theories on the exact origins of the festive holiday and its name.

Here's everything you need to know about December 26.

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Boxing Day has become synonymous with post-Christmas sales (Getty Images)Boxing Day has become synonymous with post-Christmas sales (Getty Images)
Boxing Day has become synonymous with post-Christmas sales (Getty Images)

A day of giving

Now earmarked by many as an opportunity to indulge in some high street shopping or attend a festive football fixture, Oxford Dictionary claim that the day has its origins in the mid-17th century practice of giving tradespeople boxes of gifts the day after Christmas Day celebrations.

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The custom allegedly has its roots in an older tradition where wealthy citizens would allow servants to visit their families the day after their efforts on Christmas Day.

The act of handing gifting boxes out of gratitude could date back as far as the Middle Ages when churches would arrange Alms collections boxes for the needy.

The Feast of Saint Stephen or Saint Stephen's Day also takes place on Boxing Day which celebrates the first Christian martyr. In the early Christian era this day was marked with the collecting of offerings in metal boxes outside holy sites.

Sweetie Scone Day, sales and sport

Though Boxing Day has been a public holiday in the UK since 1871, Scotland has only observed it as such since 1974.

In parts of the country, Boxing Day was once known as "Sweetie Scone Day".

This curious name was in reference to the custom of lords and ladies providing hard workers and the less well off with loafs of fruit and spice packed cakes known as sweetieskons.

Today the holiday has become synonymous with sporting events and sales. Typically football fixtures between bitter rivals have taken place on December 26 with the Edinburgh derby taking place on the date this year.

Though Black Friday has become the go-to date for bagging bargains for many in recent years, Boxing Day sales are still a hit with Scottish and UK shoppers.

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High street stores typically slash prices the day after Christmas Day and in 2017 this resulted in the date being the biggest shopping day of the year with 23 million people hitting the high street and a total of £4.5 billion spent.