Boxing Day is a holiday for many Canadians on December 26. It gives people the chance to take part in the post-Christmas sales or watch ice hockey games.
Is Boxing Day a Public Holiday?
Boxing Day is a public holiday in Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, and Yukon” 5 provinces and 3 territories, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
Many people in Canada have a day off work and many of them visit stores that start their annual sales on Boxing Day. Some shoppers even start waiting outside stores in the small hours of the morning and many stores open earlier than usual. Now, the sales often last for a whole week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and are known as the “Boxing Week Sales” instead of the “Boxing Day Sales”. In some areas, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, stores are not open on Boxing Day and the post-Christmas sales start on December 27.
A number of important sporting events are held on Boxing Day and watching them on television is a popular activity. The International Ice Hockey Federation world junior hockey championships often start on December 26. The Canadian National team often does well in this event. The Spengler Cup ice hockey tournament, which is played in Davos, Switzerland, is also shown on major sports television channels. The Canada national men’s team has performed well in this event in recent years.
Boxing Day is a federal holiday and is listed in the Canadian Labour Code as a holiday. However, it is not uniformly observed in all provinces and territories. It is not an official holiday in Quebec, nor is it a statutory holiday in Alberta and British Columbia. In Saskatchewan, the day is a public holiday for government and public services. In practice, many organizations and businesses are closed, although stores are often open.
In some communities, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are not open. Post offices across the country are closed. As Boxing Day falls in the Christmas holiday period, schools are closed. Public transport services may run a normal or reduced service, or provide no service. When Boxing Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on a working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.
Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and many countries (including Canada) that were once part of the British Empire. The origin of this holiday’s name is not clear. In feudal times in the United Kingdom, the lord of the manor would ‘pay’ people who worked on his land in the past year with boxes of practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. These were often distributed on the day after Christmas Day. More recently, employers traditionally gave their servants a gift of money or food in a small box on the day after Christmas Day. Some people in Canada still give gifts to people who provide them with services.
Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food leftover from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners. These traditions evolved into the Christmas baskets that some employers distribute to their employees during the holiday season at the end of the year.