The Day After Christmas Brings Boxing Day, Wren Day, and the Feast Of St. Stephen
The day after Christmas brings to mind a few things: returning unwanted gifts, the after Christmas hangover (mental and/or alcoholic), and frustrated parents searching the calendar for the start of school again. However, this day as a long history that some people in the United States might not know.
Christians celebrate this day as the Feast of St. Stephen. Many recognize the mention in a favorite Christmas Carol “Good King Wenceslas.” Who is St. Stephen? The Catholic Church describes him as the first Christian Martyr. Charged with blasphemy and stoned to death, the New Testament also mentions St. Stephen. Interestingly enough, several European countries celebrate St. Stephen as a national holiday. Some of these countries include Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Germany.
Though not as popular today, Ireland also calls this day “Wren Day.” This alludes to ancient Irish mythology that interweaves Jesus and the small birds. In honor of this tradition, the Irish dress up in old clothing and visit neighbors with a song and a dance. Another old tradition discontinued in the 19th century, the people of Wales bled livestock and beat women with holly branches. This brutal custom was done to bring good luck? I’m guessing not to the ladies and the livestock.
Finally, the more popular recognition of December 26th is “Boxing Day.” They still dispute the origin of the name to this day. However, it is the agreed the United Kingdom created the term. It is a tradition in Britain for the tradesman to collect “Christmas Boxes” containing money or gifts. Citizens gave these presents as gratitude for excellent service for the year. In a more modern take on Boxing Day, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia practice “Boxing Day” as a popular shopping day. This is similar to the United States’ Black Friday. Customers shop for drastic discounts and stand in insane waiting lines, but hopefully, minus the common aggression and violence we see in Walmarts all over America.
However you celebrate December 26th, it’s important to remember the time well spent with family and friends over the holidays. Parents keep your chins up and your bodies caffeinated! 2019 is fast approaching, giving us a whole new year to recover from the hectic holiday season.