Boxing Day which falls on the 26th December is a public holiday in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and has nothing to do with pugilism, or getting rid of Christmas wrappings. It was originally a day when alms were distributed to the poor, and servants/employees received gifts in money and kind from their masters.
Alms or poor boxes were placed in every parish church. Traditionally, these were opened the day after Christmas and the money distributed to the poor of the parish.
Household servants were always required to work on Christmas Day, and were given the following day off to spend with their families. It was customary for their employers to give them gifts of money and food.
It was also a time when wealthy estate owners would box up their leftover food, and unwanted gifts, and distribute them among the tenant farmers who worked their land.
All these gifts were usually placed in wooden, or clay boxes, hence the term Boxing Day.
Boxing Day traditions have fallen somewhat by the wayside, today it is seen more as a day for hitting the Christmas sales than for giving to the poor. The original concept, however, has not been totally lost, as it is still customary to tip trades people such as the postman, milkman (yes, we actually get milk delivered to our doorsteps in Britain), newspaper boys and girls, and refuse collectors. Also, many employers do give bonuses to their employees at Christmas. Today though, these tips and bonuses are usually given before Christmas.
Happy Boxing Day everyone.