What is Boxing Day in Football?

Old Trafford on Christmas Day
Old Trafford on Christmas Day
Shambhu Ajith

Traditionally, Boxing Day is the holiday celebrated right after Christmas Day. And though it's the holiday season and it is often argued that footballers need a break, it is a British tradition to watch football after Christmas Day.

Premier League teams play twice a week during this period that encompasses Christmas, Boxing Day and the New Year's Day. Most European top-flights stand suspended during the holiday season but it doesn't happen in England.

Christmas is a time where you're encouraged to have more of everything be it food or time with family or football and Boxing Day is born straight out of those ethos.

Premier League football takes centre-stage on Boxing Day

Boxing Day, like the name suggests, has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. The name comes from a British tradition where the rich would send gifts to the poor on the day after Christmas. The gifts would be neatly wrapped in a box and the day on which this exchange happens is called 'Boxing Day'.

As the tradition suggests, it is a happy occasion. In the olden days, before professional football, sports were played on festive occasions and that is perhaps where this custom of playing football on Boxing Day comes from.

Professional football became a thing only in 1863. In the Victoria era, football was played on festive occasions and when workers had a day off and for the working class, sometimes two games played in two days during the holiday season end up being the only games they get to watch.

Since these days were bank holidays, football clubs decided to cash in on them as they could easily drive attendance upwards when everyone's having a day off and as such, the bank holiday legislation act played a big role in forming the tradition of Boxing Day football.

There will be six matches played this Boxing Day and Manchester United will square off first against Leicester City. We have yet another high-profile match as Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates.

Edited by Shambhu Ajith


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