Saint Stephen's Day

Saint Stephen's Day is the second day of Christmastide and honors the first Christian Martyr, Saint Stephen. It is celebrated on December 26th in the Western Catholic church and on the 27th for the Eastern Gregorian Calendar (the 9th of January for the Julian Calendar). It is an official public holiday in Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montengro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Switzerland.


In the Republic of Ireland, it is one of the nine official public holidays and shortened often to "Stephen's Day". The day is called Lá Fhéile Stiofáin in Irish, alluding to several legends that link the Life of Jesus to the wren. A Mummer's festival is held near the village of New Inn, County Galway and Dingle in County Kerry. In the north of Ireland, the day is typically referred to as Boxing Day.





Wren Boys

In Wales, the day is known as Gŵyl San Steffan; though discontinued now, an ancient Welsh custom was to bleed livestock and beating of late risers and female servants with holly branches to bring good luck.


In Austria, Stephanitag is a public holiday and the day of Saint Stephen is celebrated on the feast of the Holy Family in the Archdiocese of Vienna. There are ceremonial horseback rides, blessing of horses, and the stoning drinking rite of young men after Mass.



The Blessing of the Horses


In Finland, tapaninpäivä is the "Ride of Stephen's Day", a sleigh ride with horses along village streets as a sort of contrast between the merry times now and the pious mood leading into Christmas.



Sleigh Rides on Saint Stephen's Day

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