Boxing Day practices around the world

Boxing Day with friends

There are three statutory holidays that fall at the end of December and beginning of January: Christmas Day (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day (January 1). Many people around the world are familiar with Christmas Day and most people celebrate New Year's Day at one time or another, but Boxing Day can be a bit of a mystery to many people, who wonder what it is for and how it is celebrated?

As for the history, Boxing Day as a holiday began in the United Kingdom (UK) and originated from a Catholic tradition of collecting offerings for those in need. The donations were collected in boxes, hence the name Boxing Day. This holiday then spread to many former British colonies, such as Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong and many other places. Over time, Boxing Day has taken on a slightly different meaning in each of these places. Here are some examples of how Boxing Day is celebrated around the world.

1. The UK and Canada

Large portions of both the UK and Canada observe Boxing Day as a statutory holiday, meaning children do not have to attend school and many adults have the day off work. Being the first day after Christmas, stores will begin trying to offload excess inventory that was stocked in preparation for Christmas shopping and will offer customers discounts and sales prices in an attempt to clear their shelves. In this way, December 26th is somewhat like the American Black Friday, giving shoppers an opportunity to spend the money and gift cards they received on Christmas Day.

2. Australia

In Australia, Boxing Day is a public holiday and, as it falls in the midst of their summer season, it is often celebrated by attending sporting events, such as the Boxing Day Test cricket match or the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Those who prefer not to cheer on their favourite sailors or batsmen use the day to go on outings or to visit friends and family.

3. New Zealand

In New Zealand, Boxing Day is a public holiday that is celebrated in a similar way to other countries, by going to sporting events or by swimming, hiking and generally being active outdoors. One tradition that New Zealanders look forward to is the Ellerslie Boxing Day horse races. This Auckland Race Club tradition dates back more 160 years. The thunderous galloping horses and fancy fashion mark this holiday celebration as something truly memorable.

Overall, Boxing Day is a holiday that is celebrated in a number of countries around the world, each with their own unique twist on a tradition. Whether you celebrate Boxing Day like someone from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else, remember to be grateful for what you have.

For a complete list of holidays and special events at Niagara College – Toronto (NCT), please visit our Events page.


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