Boxing Day in countries like Canada and the UK is primarily a shopping holiday much like the US's Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving
Boxing Day in countries like Canada and the UK is primarily a shopping holiday much like the US's Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving. Boxing Day is a bank and public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Greenland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Nigeria and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa this public holiday is now known as the Day of Goodwill. Though it is not an official holiday in the United States, the name "Boxing Day" for the day after Christmas has some currency among Americans, particularly those that live near the Canada - United States border.
The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as laborers and servants. The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes were placed outside churches used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas. The exact etymology of the term "Boxing" is unclear, with several competing theories, none of which are clearly true.
The establishment of Boxing Day as a defined public holiday under the legislation that created the UK's Bank Holidays started the separation of 'Boxing Day' from the 'Feast of St Stephen' and today it is almost entirely a secular holiday with a tradition of shopping and post Christmas sales starting.
In Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much as the United States treats the day after Thanksgiving. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue.
Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues to form early in the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers. Once inside, the shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queueing up, providing video of shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items. The Boxing Day sales have the potential for customer stampedes, injuries and even fatalities. As a result, many retailers have implemented practices aimed at controlling large numbers of shoppers, most whom are typically irate due to the cold (or, in Australia and New Zealand, hot) weather, and anxious for bargains. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at a time, provide tickets to people at the head of the line to guarantee them a hot ticket item, and canvass lined-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.
In recent years, retailers have expanded their deals to "Boxing Week". While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers who hold Boxing Day Sales will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Year's Eve. Notably in the recession of late 2008, a record number of retailers were holding early promotions due to a weak economy. Canada's Boxing Day has often been compared to the U.S.'s Black Friday, right after Thanksgiving, and in 2009 a number of major Canadian retailers had their own Black Friday promotions in order to discourage shoppers from crossing the border.
Happy Boxing Day!