For many across the world, especially the commonwealth, the day after Christmas is a bank holiday known as Boxing Day. Over the past few decades it has been the day the post-Christmas sales begin and bargains can be found in every shop. Although it looks like this year the Boxing Day sales have been replaced by the American tradition of Black Friday.
In South Africa it is known as the Day of Goodwill, this name change happened in 1994. To Catholics it is St. Stephen’s Day and it is also known as Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day in Ireland. Although in many European countries it is simply celebrated as the second Christmas day.
But this is the day that servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a Christmas Box, from their bosses and employers; it was a thank you for their good service throughout the year. This would also be the day that servants could go home and visit their own families, after having to wait on their masters on Christmas Day itself.
The box would contain some money, a Christmas bonus of sorts, gifts and sometimes even leftover food to share with their family.
The name itself is believed to be linked to the Alms Box inside laces of worship. These were used to collect donations to help the poor, which eventually evolved into the Christmas Box tradition.