What is Boxing Day?

I'm sure you've seen on your calendar, that December 26th is Boxing Day. But what is it exactly? 

Origin stories of the holiday are mixed: Some say the name comes from the British aristocracy's habit of presenting their servants with gifts on the day after Christmas, once their own celebration was over and lowly employees could finally get some time off. Another popular suggestion is that it arose from the tradition of making charitable donations during the Christmas season, wherein people would give boxes of food and other supplies to the less fortunate and churches would set out donation boxes to collect for the poor. 

Still another theory centers on the 10th-century duke of Bohemia: As the story goes, the duke was out surveying his land the day after Christmas when he noticed a poor man trying to gather firewood in a blizzard. Moved, the duke went to the poor man's house with a box of food, wine, and other items — a deed so noble it was immortalized in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas."

But Boxing Day isn't the only name for December 26. Some countries call it St. Stephen's Day, in honor of a deacon who became the first Christian martyr when he was stoned to death in AD 36. In Ireland, it's sometimes called Wren Day, which used to be marked by the time-honored tradition of hunting down and murdering a small bird, tying it to a pole, and then going door to door singing the "Wren Song." (Thankfully, this is no longer a thing people do.) South Africa renamed the holiday "Goodwill Day" in 1994 to "sever ties to a colonial past," according to Cape Town Magazine. And some countries, including Poland and the Netherlands, eschew the fuss and just call it "Second Christmas Day."

Soooo what you're saying is that we could have slept in today if we lived in Canada???

If you're still not sure what exactly is going on with our friends to the North and East, VOX has curated a wonderful breakdown for you of exactly what this magical extra Holiday entails.

Image: Getty Images

Quote: VOX

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