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What Exactly is Boxing Day and Why Does it Matter?

Have you ever looked at your calendar and wandered, ‘What in the world is Boxing Day?’ Is it where we box up our holiday decorations? Perhaps a day to relax and enjoy some after-holiday sales (because let’s face it, you can’t wear another one of Aunt Sally’s itchy homemade sweaters)? You’re not alone! When Christmas day passes, the celebration continues – at least in a few countries – like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Boxing Day is a bank holiday that is traditionally recognized on December 26th and officially became a holiday in 1871. But still, what exactly is Boxing Day and why does it matter? We’re going to breakdown some plausible theories and show how you can incorporate this holiday into your own holiday.

Why Is it Called Boxing Day?

First things first, let’s understand why December 26th is called Boxing Day. The term was first recorded in 1833, but the official origins of the name has never truly been determined. In fact, there are three main theories:

  • Victorian Servants – If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you may remember the grandiose house and its many dedicated servants that serve the Crawley family. One theory is that Boxing Day was created to give servants a day off and a gift by their employer. The servants would also take this day as an opportunity to return home and give gifts to their own families.
  • Charity Drives – Keeping in the holiday spirit, it’s theorized that Boxing Day was created as a day to collect money for the poor and placed in churches on Christmas day, to be opened by those in need the next day, or Boxing Day.
  • Nautical Tradition – And lastly, when setting sail, ships would carry a sealed box containing money for good luck. If the voyage was a success, the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas, and the contents given to the poor.

Ok, But What Can We Do to Celebrate?

The entire holiday season is about giving back to others – so why not incorporate Boxing Day into your holiday traditions? Year-end is the most important time for any nonprofit – especially during this trying year. There are many easy ways you can participate and help give back to others this holiday season. A few ideas are:

  • Make Meals for Those in Need – Check with local churches, shelters, and other organizations to see if they’re interested in volunteers for the holiday season to help prepare meals. Thanksgiving is a popular time for volunteers at food banks, consider also helping sort food donations or preparing kits incase the kitchen is full of helping hands!
  • Give a Dog a Walk – It isn’t just people who need help! Animals across the country are looking for their furever home. Until that day, a helpful way to give back to animal welfare organizations is by helping walk dogs, cuddle with cats, or donate food, litter, toys, and blankets. Plus, we’re all going to need a good walk after eating all that holiday turkey!
  • Donate – Donations doesn’t always have to come in monetary form. Check organization’s ‘wish lists’ to see what their most pressing needs are. Consider donating gently-worn or new clothing to a women’s shelter (a great way to clean out your closet!), blankets and coats to a homeless shelter, pots and pans, or even toys to children in need.
  • Create Your Own Fundraiser – Is there an organization that speaks to you? Why not orchestrate a fundraiser to help raise monetary funds, items, and more to help! This is a great way to work with others in your community and make it a family affair!
  • Give Blood –  The Red Cross is always in need for blood donations – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t take much time to give and you’re helping save 3 lives.
  • Shop at the Right Places – In the new age of corporate social responsibility, many businesses will donate a part of their proceeds to charities. Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchase to a charitable organization of your choice, and Whole Foods gives you the option to donate your five-cent reusable bag credit to a local nonprofit.
  • Ask for Gift Donations – Can’t think of what you want this holiday season from Santa? Ask your friends and family to donate in your honor to your favorite charity instead.
  • Be Gracious – Never underestimate the power of being gracious. Say thank you with small gifts to your mail carrier or trash pick-up service (even snacks and bottled water is welcome!). Pay-it-forward by purchasing a customer’s groceries, or even just pick up that Starbucks order for the car behind you. Surprise a loved one with a beautiful bouquet of flowers that’s going through a difficult time. You don’t have to give something large to make a difference in someone’s day!

Whether you’ve heard of Boxing Day, already celebrate, or looking for additional ways to giveback this holiday season, there’s no shortage of ways to help your community – both locally, nationally, and abroad. Consider utilizing Boxing Day this year as a day dedicated to helping those in need – you’ll feel good and those in need!

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