Whether Tuesday 28 December is a bank holiday with Boxing Day being a Sunday

Christmas Day and Boxing Day are normally bank holidays, but both fall on a weekend this year.

However, thankfully that doesn’t mean we miss out on two days off.

Instead, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 December will be substitute bank holidays, meaning many businesses will be closed and shops may run at reduced hours.

The same is happening for New Year. New Year’s Day is typically a bank holiday, but it falls on a Saturday, so Monday 3 January will be a bank holiday instead.

When are the bank holidays in 2022?

Bank holiday dates can differ slightly across the UK. England and Wales always have the same bank holidays, but Scotland and Northern Ireland have some of their own dates.

Here are England and Wales’s bank holidays for 2022:

  • Monday 3 January (New Year’s Day substitute)
  • Friday 15 April (Good Friday)
  • Monday 18 April (Easter Monday)
  • Monday 2 May (early May bank holiday)
  • Thursday 2 June (spring bank holiday)
  • Friday 3 June (Platinum Jubilee bank holiday)
  • Monday 29 August (summer bank holiday)
  • Monday 26 December (Boxing Day)
  • Tuesday 27 December (Christmas Day substitute)

Here are Scotland’s 2022 bank holidays:

  • Monday 3 January (New Year’s Day substitute)
  • Tuesday 4 January (2 January substitute)
  • Friday 15 April (Good Friday)
  • Monday 2 May (early May bank holiday)
  • Thursday 2 June (spring bank holiday)
  • Friday 3 June (Platinum Jubilee bank holiday)
  • Monday 1 August (summer bank holiday)
  • Wednesday 1 November (St Andrew’s Day)
  • Monday 26 December (Boxing Day)
  • Tuesday 27 December (Christmas Day substitute)

Here are the bank holidays in Northern Ireland in 2022:

  • Monday 3 January (New Year’s Day substitute)
  • Thursday 17 March (St Patrick’s Day)
  • Friday 15 April (Good Friday)
  • Monday 18 April (Easter Monday)
  • Monday 2 May (early May bank holiday)
  • Thursday 2 June (spring bank holiday)
  • Friday 3 June (Platinum Jubilee bank holiday)
  • Tuesday 12 July (Battle of the Boyne)
  • Monday 29 August (summer bank holiday)
  • Monday 26 December (Boxing Day)
  • Tuesday 27 December (Christmas Day substitute)

Why is it called Boxing Day?

What we can say with certainty is that it’s nothing to do with the sport of boxing or putting unwanted Christmas gifts in boxes.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “Boxing Day” dates from the mid-18th century, and refers to the practice of giving tradespeople like postmen and servants “Christmas boxes” following Christmas Day.

These boxes, which are referred to by Samuel Pepys in a diary entry for 19 December 1663, contained gifts offered in gratitude for their services throughout the year.

This practice is thought to have dated back at least as far as the Middle Ages, perhaps originating with churches arranging alms collection boxes for those in need to be opened on St Stephen’s Day.

The Feast of St Stephen – as referenced in the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas, about a benevolent monarch gifting alms to the poor – falls on 26 December in Western Christianity and a day later in the Eastern Christian calendar.

There is also a theory that hard-working domestic staff were given the day off after serving their employers a Christmas dinner, and were sent home with a box of gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftovers from the festive feast.