Christmas-boxes Or Presents.—
The custom of annual donations at Christmas, and on New Year’s-day, is very ancient, being copied by the Christians from the Polytheists of Rome, at the time the public religion was changed. These presents, now-a-days, are more commonly made on the morrow of Christmas. From this circumstance the festival of St. Stephen has got the nickname of Christmas Boxing-day, and by corruption, Boxing-day.
In London, and in many other parts of Europe, large families and establishments keep regular lists of tradesman’s servants, apprentices, and other persons, who come about making a sort of annual claim on them for a Christmasbox on this day.
Source: The Lady’s Monthly Museum, Vernor & Hood, 1824