Today In Fact, 26 December

The feast of St. Stephen. That first Christian martyr, stoned to death by the pious and upright citizens of Jerusalem has, over time been linked to peculiar festivities in various parts of the globe.

The Irish celebrate today by honouring the king the birds, the wren. Wrenboys dress in straw and colourful clothes and dance in the streets to honour the king of birds. Perhaps there is some link between Stepanos, which means “crown” in Greek and the king of birds?

In England, Morris Dancers come out in various villages and perform their curious public displays which seem to far pre-date the life of Stephen the martyr. Sports of all sorts are played on this day known as boxing day in Britain’s ex-colonies.

The Catalans eat prodigious quantities of cannelloni on this day, stuffed with the remains of Christmas feasts while the Finns seem to favour the day for getting married for some obscure reason

My favourite tradition for this day though, is the baking and consumption of St. Stephen’s Pie, which is a simple shepherd’s pie made from leftovers of Christmas lunch. A few small pebbles may sometimes be found in the pie, just to honour the martyr.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (