Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day? Where does Boxing Day come from? Boxing Day origins explained

Despite merely being used as a day to recover from excess food intake after Christmas nowadays, Boxing Day has fascinating origins that date back to the Middle Ages.

Boxing Day falls on December 26 and it is often a day used to sleep off the excess eating of Christmas but this isn’t the case for everyone. As a festive holiday the date has existed for centuries yet many people are not aware of its origins, particularly as there are many conflicting theories on Boxing Day.

What’s more, in parts of Scotland it wasn’t even known as Boxing Day but ‘Sweetie Scone Day’ instead. Here’s everything you need to know about this peculiar holiday on December 26.

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Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?

When you've made the naughty list for the year...!

Most reports indicate that there is no one definitive answer to Boxing Day’s origins as many conflicting theories exist. However, common to popular belief the day does not in fact have anything to do with putting unwanted Christmas presents into boxes nor the sport of boxing itself.

The Oxford English Dictionary reports that ‘Boxing Day’ dates to the mid-18th century and refers to the practice of postmen and servants giving ‘Christmas Boxes’ after December 25. These boxes are referenced in the diary of Samuel Pepys from 1663, and they were thought to contain gifts of gratitude for the services of others throughout the year.

Others suggest that Boxing Day may date back to the Middle Ages when churches arranged alms collection boxes for the needy to be opened on Saint Stephen’s Day - an event which falls on December 26 in Western Christianity.

What is Sweetie Scone Day?

A classic Scottish recipe, Sweetie Scones used to be gifted to the workers of Lords and Ladies on Boxing Day.

Boxing Day has served as a public holiday in the UK since 1871, but Scotland has only enjoyed it since 1974. Just as Christmas in Scotland has its own unique history and origins, Boxing Day was also a bit different here as it was previously known as Sweetie Scone Day to some.

This name was in reference to the custom of lords and ladies to offer their serving staff ‘sweetie scones’ like fruit loaves and cake.

What are some Boxing Day traditions?

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Traditionally speaking, Boxing Day has been the date of large-scale hunts across Britain as it's a prominent day on the hunting calendar. Nowadays the day is associated more with shopping and sports events, particularly with football.

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