December 26 marks Boxing Day - a national holiday in the UK - but have you ever wondered where it got its name?

It's usually a day for relaxing, spending time with family and eating Christmas leftovers, although some people do choose to hit the shops for the sales.

However the term actually dates back to the Victorian period, when people certainly weren't spending the day after Christmas flicking through the TV guide...

As another festive season rolls around, here's what you need to know about the meaning behind Boxing Day.

Why do we call December 26 Boxing Day?

The term Boxing Day originated in the Victorian era under Queen Victoria's reign. 

It referred to the rich packaging up gifts to give to the poor. 

Servants were also traditionally given the day off on December 26 and presented with Christmas boxes from their masters, filled with money or gifts as a thank you for their service. 

There are some religious connections associated with Boxing Day - in Ireland and in Catalonia it is celebrated as Saint Stephen's Day, who was the first martyr of Christianity and distributed food and charitable aid to the poor.

What are the Boxing Day traditions? 

There are a few Boxing Day traditions which happen in the UK. 


People often hit the shops to take advantage of the Boxing Day sales. However over the past couple of years with the pandemic and the rise of internet shopping, many stores have kept their doors shut on December 26. 


There are usually football games to get involved with; local teams might play against each other while Premier League matches also go ahead, with fans able to watch either in person or on TV. 

Fun runs and loony dooks are also common on December 26 - these events see people come together to celebrate the festive season by running into the freezing sea or dressing as Santa to jog 5k.


Leftovers are also a huge part of Boxing Day and people often find themselves digging into a turkey sandwich to make the most of the feast from the day before.