loader search icon
Popular pages
Our top casino picks for United States of America 🏆

The origins of Boxing Day and why UK football fans adore it

news thumbnail image

Learn about the Victorian England origins of Boxing Day and its unshakeable bond with British Premier League football.

As 2023 draws to a close, it is again a time for friends and families to reflect on the achievements and experiences of the past year and begin putting a bow on the end-of-year festivities.

The most apparent celebrations on the Western calendar are Christmas Day when gifts are exchanged and overly large lunches are consumed. New Year's Eve is the next big day for most people, as it is when everyone gathers to ring in 2024.

However, a more minor holiday has increased in popularity over the past few years. We call it Boxing Day and celebrate it on the 26th of December.

While the mini-Xmas, as it is also called, is appreciated worldwide, it has a particularly strong following in the United Kingdom. Sports fans and lovers of online casinos in the UK are probably already looking forward to it.

Join us as we dig into the origins of Boxing Day and why the Brits are so fond of it today.

What are the origins of Boxing Day?

The 26th of December has long since been associated with a time of benevolence and taking care of others, most likely due to its close association with the spirit of Christmas and the tendency for there to be an overflow of food and drink that could be shared.

There are tales of churches posting collection boxes at their doors where alms could be deposited and later distributed to needy families. There are also stories of collection boxes used in Rome to collect the winnings from the bets and gambling games played by Roman citizens over the winter celebrations.

Regardless of which of these origin tales tickles your fancy, there is no doubt how the day became known as Boxing Day in modern times.

The holiday was named such by Queen Victoria during her rule in the 1800s. The name has nothing to do with the sport of boxing but instead with the practice of wealthy Victorian socialites who would box up their leftover food and unwanted or excess gifts to give to their poor servants.

The servants were given Boxing Day off to celebrate with their families as they would been seeing to the needs of their masters and their guests on Christmas Day itself.

Why is Boxing Day so popular in the UK?

Other than a pint and mushy peas, there is nothing more quintessentially British than a rousing football match. While one would assume that with Christmas being a national "bank" holiday, it would be the perfect time to host the best teams duking it out over ninety minutes for fame and glory, it is, in fact, one of the few times during the football season when no matches are being played anywhere in the country.

Worst of all for avid football and gambling fans, it is not only local matches that are suspended, but since most of the European Leagues close up shop over the Christmas holidays, leaving sports fans and online gambling industry enthusiasts with nothing to do with their free time and bonus money.

Thankfully, the top four English leagues (the Premier League, Championship League, League 1, and League 2) have stepped up and claimed Boxing Day as a non-negotiable football fun day, with up to seven matches in any given year.

The tradition of playing football on Boxing Day dates back to 1888 when the Football League was established.

Why is Boxing Day celebrated around the world?

Boxing Day was spread worldwide thanks to the early expansion of the British empire. Many of the countries which were once British colonies still celebrate the holiday as part of their local Christmas customs.

However, colonised nations were just some of the ones to adopt the extended Christmas celebration. Countries with close contact with the United Kingdom found it a pleasant, family-oriented pastime and followed suit. For this reason, you will discover Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and even South Africa.

Published: December 21, 2023

Anything incorrect or missing?

Article by Polly

CasinoWow Contributor

Hey guys, my name is Polina but my friends and colleagues call me Polly. I am truly passionate about online casino gaming and exploring the different online gambling experiences. I'm really into diving deep into topics and researching all the details. My aim is to gather the best information and write interesting articles for all the readers at CasinoWow.

CasinoWow.com Cookies

We use 🍪 cookies to improve your user experience. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.



Be the first to get exclusive bonuses and WOW casino promotions! Get access to our new online casinos, top stories and special iGaming events for FREE.

Share this page across social platforms!