St. Stephen's Day

St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint's day celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen's Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on January 9 according to the Gregorian calendar used in secular (and Western) contexts. It commemorates St Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr.


In Ireland the day is one of nine official public holidays

In Irish it is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín — the latter translates literally as another English name used, the Day of the Wren or Wren's Day. When used in this context, "wren" is often pronounced "ran". This name alludes to several legends, including those found in Ireland linking episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren. In parts of Ireland persons carrying either an effigy of a wren, or an actual caged wren, travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing. Depending on which region of the country, they are called Wrenboys, Mummers or Strawboys. A Mummer's Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, Co. Galway. St Stephen's Day is also a popular day for visiting family members. A popular rhyme, known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers goes as follows:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Give us some money to bury the wren.


St. Stephen's Day in Wales is known as Gŵyl San Steffan. Ancient Welsh custom, discontinued in the 19th century, included bleeding of livestock and "holming" (beating or slashing with holly branches) of late risers and female servants.


In Catalonia it is called Sant Esteve and is a bank holiday, but not in the whole country of Spain.

Serbia and Republika Srpska

St. Stephen is the patron saint of Serbia and the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and St. Stephen's Day is celebrated as the Day of the Republika Srpska. It falls on January 9 by the Gregorian calendar (the standard international calendar), as the Serbian Orthodox Church adheres to the Julian calendar. Serbian medieval rullers' title was Stefan (Stephen).


St. Stephen's Day in Hungary refers to August 20, the day on which the relics of King St. Stephen, patron saint of Hungary, were transferred to the city of Buda. This day is the ultimate public holiday in Hungary. Stephen, originally named Vajk, was the son of the pagan chieftain Géza but was baptized a Christian at the age of ten, and was given the Latin name "Stephanus" ("István" in Hungarian). In 997, a succession struggle between the Christian Stephen and his uncle, the pagan chieftain Koppány, ended in a victory for Stephen and his followers. As a result, the Magyar tribes were united into one nation and converted from paganism to Christianity; Pope Sylvester II presented him with a crown (the Crown of St. Stephen, still a symbol of Hungary) as a token of gratitude. In 1083 A.D. Pope Gregory VII canonized Stephen, and he has since been referred to as Saint Stephen of Hungary.

Under communism St. Stephen's Day was referred to in Hungary as "The celebration of the new bread — the end of the harvest".


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