The NameThere is general, but not total, agreement that the name of ‘Boxing’ Day refers to Christmas Boxes given by well off families to poorer ones as presents on the day after Christmas; the problem is which boxes, and who have them. Some believe the name originated with collections made in churches on Christmas Day for distribution to the poor, while other prefer Christmas boxes given to servants when they took time off on the day following Christmas (they’d have been busy the day before serving the family). As we’re talking about Christmas in the nineteenth century, there is a Dickens reference: he wrote one of the earliest extant uses of the phrase in his Pickwick Papers. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term Boxing Day to 1833, when the practice of giving Christmas boxes was fading.
The day has become associated with sport, although there is no connection with the name and the sport of boxing.