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St. Stephen’s Day: History and Significance of the Boxing Day

St. Stephen’s Day (Lá Fhéile Stiofáin), or the Day of the Wren (Lá an Dreoilín) or the Feast of Saint Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to remember Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church around the world. It is praised the day after Christmas Day and is likewise known in Ireland, among different names, as Boxing Day and the Hunting of the Wrens.

In Western Churches the world over, St. Stephen’s Day is praised on December 26th, the day after Christmas. In Eastern Orthodox Churches where the Julian calendar is used, St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated on December 27th. St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr who died around the year of 34 A.D.

Saint Stephen is associated with being the first Christian martyr. Stephen looked after the poor people however was stoned to death in AD36 for lecturing the Gospel. His story is recorded in the Bible in the 6th chapter of the Book of Acts.

What is St. Stephen’s Day?

St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day. It remembers St. Stephen, the first Christian saint.

It is an official public holiday in Austria, Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Poland.

The date is additionally a Public Holiday in those nations that observe Boxing Day on the day instead/too. In certain countries, it is called the Second Day of Christmas (or the comparable in the local language).

In Ireland Stephen’s Day is additionally called the Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day. This name implies a few legends, remembering those found for Ireland, connecting episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren.

Albeit not as commonly practiced as beforehand, in specific parts of Ireland individuals carrying either a likeness of a wren or a real caged wren (live or dead), travel from house to house playing music, singing, and dancing. Contingent upon which region of the nation, they are called wren boys and mummers.

A Mummer’s Festival is held as of now every year in the town of New Inn, County Galway, and Dingle in County Kerry. St. Stephen’s Day is additionally a well-known day for seeing relatives.

The Hunting of the Wrens, or Wrens’ Day, relates to the tradition of killing a wren on Saint Stephen’s Day after which kids may go from house to house auctioning off the wren’s feathers, or they might be chased or followed through the roads while special songs were sung.

The wren feathers were thought to bring the best of luck. Today, a fake wren is connected to a pole and individuals dress up in straw costumes and parade through villages and towns.

Another huge event on this day in Ireland is horse racing at such places as the Leopardstown Racecourse on the southern edge of Dublin. Saint Stephen’s Day is the first of four days of this event. A few people just go to the races, however, others buy packages that incorporate special seating, dinners, and racecards.

Indeed, even individuals race on Saint Stephen’s Day – with a 10-mile running race at Limerick that covers nation streets and dual carriageways. The race starts at Caherdavin, goes five miles to Cratloe Cross then returns an alternate way, and finishes less than a mile from its beginning stage.

In Ireland, banks, schools, and government offices are shut on this public holiday, however, numerous stores are open alongside bars and restaurants even though their hours might be different from usual. It is a decent opportunity for many to go out for meals with their families and companions.

While St. Stephen’s Day isn’t viewed as a public holiday all through the rest of France, it is kept as one in France’s Alsace-Moselle region. Remembering that the holiday isn’t typically kept as a festive day of activities and celebrations, it’s ideal to remember the origin of this old holiday.

Numerous Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen’s Day on 27 December as indicated by that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar used in secular contexts. It recognizes St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr.

In non-Commonwealth nations, the day is all the more normally referred to as St Stephen’s Day or the Feast of Stephen as referenced in the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’.

Stephen was a Greek Jew who had changed over to Christianity. He was selected as one of seven deacons to assist with organizing the early Christian church.

Because of his proclaiming Christianity, he was blamed for blasphemy and stood preliminary at a Jewish court in around 34 CE.

During the preliminary he made a long speech, saying that Christianity supported the lessons of Moses. This so maddened the group at the preliminary, that he was dragged away and battered to the point of death by a crowd. It is said that the crowd was encouraged on by Saul of Tarsus, who later became Saint Paul.

The other St. Stephen was St. Stephen of Hungary, who was the first king of Hungary and is noted for changing the Magyar people to Christianity.

Good King Wenceslas

The feast of St. Stephen is most likely most popular for its appearance in the famous Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas.

“Good King Wenceslas watched out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay indirect Deep and crisp and even”

Wenceslas was a King in Bohemia in the 10th century CE. Like Stephen, Wenceslas became a Saint after his death and like Stephen, even has his own public holiday.

The words to the carol were composed by John Mason Neale in 1853. The music was initially from a song about spring, famous in the 14th century.

How to celebrate St. Stephen’s Day?

Today, Italians observe St. Stephen’s Day in a variety of ways. While a few towns do hold parades like the one celebrated in Putignano, others order expound live nativity scenes or go through the day carrying food and gifts to the less lucky.

In Rome and other huge urban areas, cathedrals and churches make their doors for guests who wish to see the glorious nativity shows and the relics of saints held within. A day of feasting, celebration, and aiding those in need, St. Stephen’s Day is one of the happiest dates on any Italian’s calendar.

In contrast to other festive events in France and somewhere else, this day is somewhat subdued in correlation. Honored the day after Christmas, the feast day falls on December 26th, the second of the Twelve Days of Christmas as the second of two public holidays-Good Friday being the first.

Be that as it may, it is just honored in Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin in Alsace and the Lorraine département of Moselle. The rest of France, notwithstanding, doesn’t quit working.

Countries around the globe list St. Stephen’s Day as an official public holiday including Austria, Slovakia, Germany, Canada, Finland, Poland, Italy, Ireland, England, Australia, Czech Republic, Croatia, the region of Catalonia, and numerous others. Frequently, individuals of these nations will praise the holiday by spending time with close loved ones and having dinners together.

In Finland, notwithstanding spending time with loved ones, St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated with sleigh rides or horse rides, as St. Stephen was known as the patron saint of horses. These rides for the most part occur in small towns and rural regions.

In Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day is known as the Day of the Wren. This day is an official holiday in Ireland. The Irish name is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán (Boxing Day) or Lá an Dreoilin (Wren Day).

The Wren’s Day celebration started hundreds and several years back. One clarification for Wren Day was that St. Stephen was in hiding from his enemies. Tragically, he was hiding close to a wren.

The wren’s chirping gave away St. Stephen’s hiding spot and he was found. The wren, accordingly, was to be caught and battered to the point of death, similarly as St. Stephen was battered to the point of death.

Today, musicians travel from house to house looking for the wren. As they visit each house, they get cash, food, or drink as they sing the wren song. This is only one version of the wren song found in an old Irish story:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephenses day he was caught in the furze;
Although he’s small, his family’s great,
So pray, good ladies, give us a trate.”

Catalonia is another region that observes St. Stephen’s Day. In this region, a festive luncheon is presented with cannelloni loaded down with escudella I carn d’olla (extra turkey meat from Christmas day dinner).

In different nations, St. Stephen’s Day is likewise called Boxing Day. Boxing Day relates to filling boxes with gifts to provide for other people. Nations that observe Boxing Day incorporate Australia, Canada, Wales, and other Commonwealth communities. This day is a national holiday in a large number of these nations.

St. Stephen is the patron saint of stonemasons, casket producers, victims of headaches, horses, and deacons.

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