While American’s don’t observe December 26th with any particular traditions, in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Boxing Day is celebrated as a second holiday following Christmas to spend with family and box up goods to be donated to the less fortunate. Historians trace the name Boxing Day back to the Middle Ages when employers gave boxed gifts of food or money to their servants or workers.
Each country with British roots may celebrate the holiday with slightly different traditions and older adults will remember a time when the day wasn’t just about shopping the after-Christmas sales. Boxing Day is observed with a bank holiday and was often celebrated in the upper classes with a fox hunt (now outlawed) which has been replaced with watching horse racing or football(soccer).
How ever your family celebrates December 26, taking the time to listen to the stories of grandparents and great grandparents is a rare opportunity to share an oral history that otherwise may be lost. Tales told of boxing up unwanted gifts or gathering clothes that were outgrown by the children of the family to be donated to charities can bring generations together and encourage new traditions to carry on the holiday.
New Boxing Day Tradition Ideas
- Collect food and clothing donations from neighbors and deliver them to a shelter or food pantry
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter
- Host a game night and invite friends to share leftover food
- Recycle papers and boxes used to wrap presents
- Take the time to personally thank people you employ for their service
- Consider what items can be donated if replaced by new presents
- Visit an elderly neighbor or nursing home and bring small gifts or food to share
- Shovel the driveway of a senior