Boxing Day is a national holiday in the UK, celebrated annually on the 26th of December. A number of traditions have developed around this day, and we’ve broken them down for you here so that you can get in the spirit of the holiday!
Held on the same day as St. Stephen’s Day, which is a religious holiday within Western Christianity, Boxing Day is a secular bank holiday in the United Kingdom. Many countries that were formerly a part of the United Kingdom also celebrate Boxing Day in one form or another. For example, Australia also recognizes Boxing Day as a federal holiday.
One of the things Boxing Day is best known for in the UK is shopping. Not unlike the Black Friday shopping frenzy in the United States, Boxing Day Sales are common in the UK, and many people will spend all or part of their day enjoying lowered prices on the high street. According to the BBC, more than 12 million people took advantage of Boxing Day sales in the UK in 2009.
Boxing Day in the UK also famously involves quite a bit of sport. Many football and rugby matches are held that day, and these matches tend to be between local rivals. Called derbies, these local rivalry matches offer the opportunity for communities to enjoy a bit of sport without having to travel far from home to do so. One of the most prestigious horse races in Britain, the King George IV Chase, is held annually on Boxing Day in Surrey. Traditionally, this holiday was a significant hunting day in the UK, though that has diminished slightly as hunting has become less popular.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, Boxing Day is an important tradition to understand and respect as a student in the United Kingdom – and if you’re a fan of shopping or sport, you may find yourself truly enjoying this UK holiday!