Saint Stephen’s Day It is one of two widely celebrated holidays observed in honor of two Christian saints. The day commemorates the life of Saint Stephen, a Christian deacon in Jerusalem who was known for his service to the poor and his status as the first Christian martyr.
|Western Date||Eastern Date|
|26. Dec 2020||09. Jan 2020|
The charity of St. Stephen is the reason for the songs and customs which have become the traditional manner of celebrating his feast. The St. Stephen’s Day is also a public holiday in those countries that celebrate Boxing Day (United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada).
In many countries in Europe, it’s a traditional custom of going house-to-house during the St. Stephen’s Day. The day is usually observed by visiting friends and going to parties. Modern festivities include fireworks and parades as well.
In Ireland, it is also known as Wren’s Day or Hunt the Wren Day (Lá an Dreoilín). The tradition includes “hunting” a fake wren (small bird) and putting it on top of a decorated pole. It is common to dress up in masks, straw suits and colorful motley clothing.
St. Stephen’s Day Customs in Europe
Although not as commonly practiced as previously, in some parts of Ireland people carrying either an effigy of a wren or an actual caged wren (live or dead), traveling from house to house playing music, singing, and dancing.
One of the oldest folk-songs of Sweden, Saint Stephen was Riding (Staffansvisa) is sung at Christmastide in honor of St. Stephen.
Saint Stephen is the patron saint of Serbia. Saint Stephen’s Day falls on 9 January because the Serbian Orthodox Church adheres to the Julian calendar.
In Finland, the most popular tradition related to this holiday is “the ride of Stephen’s Day”, which refers to a sleigh ride with horses. Another old tradition is parading with singers and people dressed in Christmas suits.
In these countries there are numerous ancient customs survived to this day, such as ceremonial horseback rides or the “stoning” drinking ritual celebrated by young men after attending church service.
In the United Kingdom, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping day. It is a time when shops hold sales, often with dramatic price reductions. This day has become the day of the year for many merchants when it comes to revenue.