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Why is the day after Christmas called Boxing Day?

Despite the name, Boxing Day isn't related to the sport of boxing or returning Christmas presents.

WASHINGTON — As Christmas Day gets underway, the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth countries are looking ahead to Boxing Day on Monday.

Boxing Day is celebrated in the U.K. on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas. Despite the name, the holiday has nothing to do with the sport of boxing or returning boxes or presents. 

History.com explains that one theory of the holiday's origin is that the day after Christmas was when boxes filled with small gifts and money would be given to household servants and employees who had to work on Dec. 25. The gifts were meant as a thank you for their service throughout the year.  

Despite the holiday's origin being unclear, Dictionary.com claims it has existed since the 1700s.

As the holiday evolved over the years, it has become an extension of the Christmas season with family and friends gathering to celebrate together. In the U.K. and other British Commonwealth countries, Boxing Day is also one of the most popular shopping days of the year, rivaling Black Friday in the United States. 

MORE TOP STORIES: What's open, closed on Christmas Day?

It should be noted, however, that Boxing Day has nothing to do with boxing or returning Christmas gifts in boxes. People in the U.K., however, have come to associate the holiday with soccer (football).

This year, Boxing Day also marks the return of the Premier League season after it was paused for a month due to the World Cup.

There are seven Premier League matches scheduled for Boxing Day.

Former soccer player and current TV analyst Robbie Earle described in a 2019 video that when he thinks of Boxing Day, he thinks of "the biggest game of the Premier League season." 

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