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ST STEPHEN’S DAY / 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.

THE WREN BOYS

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.

CHRISTMAS LUNCH AT THE ORATORY – CHEF EDDIE

CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH GOOSEBERRY COMPOTE AND MELBA TOAST
TURKEY AND HAM WITH TRIMMINGS AND GRAVY AND BREAD SAUCE
CHRISTMAS PUDDING WITH BRANDY CREAM
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CHRISTMAS

Federico Barrocci, Prado museum, Madrid

A Christmas Story 1955 by Carmel Sheeran, Galway

I hadn’t been home for Christmas for nigh on fifteen years

THE ORATORY LARNE CHRISTMAS EVE 2020

The fragrance of Christmas pudding still lingers in the warm kitchen. The fire glowed in the black, shining range. Dad in his armchair on one side of it, and Mam opposite him. My brothers and myself sat at the large kitchen table.  I hadn’t been home for Christmas for nigh on fifteen years, and I was so happy to be with the family.

Dad said to Oliver, “ Give us a few tunes on your mouth organ. Ollie always has his mouth-organ near at hand, so he started off the singsong with “Jingle Bells”. We all sang lustily “ away in a manger” and “ home on the range”, and other favourites. Then Eddie went upstairs and returned with his guitar. He strummed in tune with Oliver. We had a rest from all the singing and listened to the lads play jigs and reels. I saw Dad reach for the old tin tea caddy, which he placed between his knees. He played drums on it, with two spoons.

Its made Christmas for all of us, to have you home..”

When the recital ended, Dad looked across at me and said “ Give us a bar of “Silent night” Carmel.  I was blessed with a sweet singing voice, so i started to sing. As I got to the second verse, I looked across at Dad, to see tears running down his weather beaten  face. When I finished singing that much loved carol, He said “ Your gifted agirl”, and  its made Christmas for all of us, to have you home”. Mam decided to ease Dads emotions by saying “We’ll have a nice cup of tea after all that singing”. She lifted the big black kettle neared the heat, and soon had it singing it own song.

It’s been over fifty years since that wonderful Christmas day, when we were all together and I’ve never forgotten it.

PAT SAYS

I’m always sad at how the real meaning of Christmas has disappeared and been replaced by materialism, gluttony, etc.

More and more, I’ve drawn back from these frantic modern Christmasses and concentrated on two central aspects for me:

THE CHRISTMAS VIGIL MASS

To put Jesus at the centre of Christmas

CHRISTMAS DAY LUNCH WITH THOSE WE LOVE.

To extend the love of Jesus to others.

Wishing you all, blog readers, friends and foes, every blessing for Christmas and for 2023

Pat

THE ORATORY SITTING ROOM – HOUSE BUILT 1904