It is tradition in most families to spend the day with other family members as a sort of 'second' Christmas Day, where presents are exchanged, the left-overs of the previous day are eaten or another family meal is prepared in celebration.
Boxing Day in the UK is a day when stores launch one of the year's biggest sales periods. Boxing Day has become so important for retailers that they often extend it into a "Boxing Week".
Boxing Day in the UK is traditionally a day for sporting activity, originally fox hunting, but as this is now banned, alternative hunts take place. Football, horse racing and cricket are also played. Boxing day is also the start of the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship.
* English and Scottish football matches
* Boxing Day Dip - in certain UK coastal towns (including Hartlepool, Hastings, Sunderland, Whitby, Tenby and most coastal parts of Cornwall), people wade into the sea on boxing day - often in fancy dress, and usually to raise money for a local charity.
* Football Matches played in Northern Ireland
* Derby Magners League rugby matches played in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Australia and New Zealand
In a similar vein to the United Kingdom, shopping occurs similarly in Australia and New Zealand, although some Australian states, including New South Wales are tightening restrictions on Boxing Day retail trading, deferring the post-Christmas sales to December 27.
Boxing Day is not formally observed in the Australian state of South Australia, instead what would have been the next working day after Christmas is officially titled Proclamation Day and a public holiday is observed. However, it is still referred to as Boxing Day.
In Australia, Boxing Day has become a significant sporting day (similar to ANZAC Day celebrations). In Melbourne the Boxing Day Test Match is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, often before the largest single day crowd of the Australian cricket season. In Sydney, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starts on this day.
In Canada, Boxing Day is observed as a holiday, except (in some cases) for those in the retail business. Boxing Day and the days immediately following are when many retail stores sell their Christmas and retired model products by holding clearance sales. Some shoppers will line up for hours at night (sometimes before midnight and after midnight on December 26) for retailers to open their doors. Except in Quebec, retailers often open their stores earlier than usual, such as 6 or 7 am. Some retail companies internally refer to the sales week after Christmas as the "thirteenth month." (See Boxing Week.) It is similar to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, in the United States. Boxing Day 2005 was the single largest economic transaction day ever in the history of Canadian commerce (according to Visa). Individual big box stores can even gross over CAD$1,000,000 on one single Boxing Day.
As an exception, most retail stores are not permitted to open on Boxing Day in Atlantic Canada, nor in some Ontario communities. (The Nova Scotia government eliminated its ban on Boxing Day openings in 2006; however, most retailers voluntarily remained closed. The ban was reinstated in 2007.) In these areas, most stores offer the same specials on December 27 that they would offer elsewhere on the 26th. This distinction is not well known in central and western Canada.
In Alberta, employers have a choice of giving their employees the day off on either Boxing Day or Remembrance Day, which falls in November.
From a sporting perspective, Boxing Day in Canada has many implications. It is usually on Boxing Day when the IIHF begins the World Junior Hockey Championship. This is a significant event for Canada and Hockey Canada which have done extremely well at this particular international event. Boxing Day is also the start of another international hockey tournament: The Spengler Cup. This tournament, usually played in Davos, Switzerland, along with the World Juniors, are aired on the two big sports networks in Canada (TSN and Rogers Sportsnet).
In South Africa, Boxing Day is known in the official calendar as Day of Goodwill. It is a day on which food, left over from Christmas Day, is 'boxed', (in picnic baskets, bags, cake tins, etc.) and family and friends head to the beach or any other place of relaxation to enjoy these left-overs. Food is shared and enjoyed together in this way. With the advent of the new political dispensation, this day was changed to 'Day of Goodwill' to symbolise sharing and togetherness.
It's also known as St. Stephen's Day (Hence, Good King Wenceslas looked out/On the Feast of Stephen)