To an American observer, Boxing Day, the second day of Christmas, is “a peculiarly British holiday” whose origins remain mysterious. For those with an anthropological turn of mind, Wikipedia explores all the theories at length.
It seems fairly certain that Boxing Day was connected with boxes of presents and food given to those who were not family or friends – give to those who receive from no one and who cannot give you anything back (Luke 14:12 14) is the lovely idea. A public holiday since the 19th century, Boxing Day naturally encourages sporting activities – Test Match cricket, football matches between the big clubs, and horse racing. In Australia the Sydney the Hobart Yacht Race begins today.
A modern trend seems to be sports that are watched by large numbers of people rather than played. We’ll wait to hear what David, celebrating Christmas in Devon, has to say about Boxing Day hunts and parties. Fox hunting, which involved thousands of riders and hunt followers in the most active participatory sport, was deliberately outlawed by the government, but Brits are resisting in a variety of ways.