Boxing Day is for Boxing Up Gifts for Return
Lots of people have never heard of Boxing Day. Those who have -- and who know it falls after Christmas -- often think it's a day designated for boxing up any gifts you don't want, don't like or can't use, and taking them back to the store. Nice as that may sound to anyone who's used to receiving bum gifts, unfortunately it's completely wrong.
Boxing Day is Dec. 26, and it's a celebration that takes place only in a few countries. It started in the United Kingdom during the Middle Ages as the one day of the year when churches opened their alms boxes, or collection boxes, and doled out the money to the poor. Servants were also given this day off to celebrate Christmas with their families, having had to work for their bosses on Christmas Day [source: Why Christmas].
The holiday changed over time. In the years leading up to World War II, blue collar workers such as milkmen, butchers and newspaper boys used the day to run their routes and collect Christmas tips from clients. Today, in certain countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Boxing Day is a day when certain sporting events are held, namely horse races and soccer matches [source: Why Christmas]. What that has to do with alms for the poor -- or boxes -- is another mystery.