2nd Day of Christmas

The 2nd Day of Christmas on December 26th is the Feast of St. Stephen.  This day is called Boxing Day in the United Kingdom.  A holiday throughout much of Europe, it has a number of variations depending on the country.

2nd Day of Christmas at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast

Picture of the Second Day (Two Turtle Doves) of Christmas 2019
       2nd Day–Two Turtle Doves

The 2nd Day of Christmas at McMullen House is depicted by two turtle doves in the center hallway, which represent the Old and New Testament in the Bible.

Origin of the Day

The Feast of St. Stephen, St. Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day in the United Kingdom is held on December 26th in the Latin Church and December 27th in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  This day celebrates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who was killed in AD 34.  This day is a holiday in much of Europe.

History of St. Stephen1

St. Stephen ministered to a number of people who became followers of Jesus.  His life is described in the Books of Acts in the Bible.  Later he was tried at the Sanhedrin Council and sentenced to death for his teachings about Jesus.  Buried first in Jerusalem, he was later moved to Constantinople and a number of other countries.  He is the patron saint of Serbia.

Variations of the Holiday in Different Countries

Picture of Fireworks on 2nd Day of Christmas--St. Stephen's Day in Hungary
Fireworks on St. Stephen’s Day in Hungarycredit: Ibolya by CC 2.0 license, image compressed for web optimization

Ireland: In Ireland this day is called Wren day.  People (wrenboys) dance in old clothes and catch fake wrens.  Musical bands are also formed.  Wrenboys are also called Mummers, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a version of this tradition held on January 1st, each year.  Wales has a similar tradition held on the twelfth day.

Catalonia: celebrated with a big meal of canelons made with meat from the previous day.

Austria: called Stephanitag and celebrated on a Sunday near Christmas.

Serbia: celebrated on January 9th.

Finland: celebrates the “ride of St. Stephens Day”, which is a sleigh ride.  It is also a popular day for weddings.

Sweden:  St. Stephen’s Day Bandy–A popular day for Bandy matches.

United Kingdom:  called Boxing Day.  Boxing Day originates from the 17th century and is a tradition of giving a “Christmas Box” to people of a lesser social class such as servants.  Today it is a public holiday and a shopping day.  A large number of football games are also held on this day.

Picture of Boxing Day Dinner Table
Boxing Day Dinner Table, credit: Iain and Sarah by CC 2.0 license, image compressed for website optimization.

References

1: St. Stephens Day

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