St. Stephen’s Day
St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen’s Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar used in secular contexts. It commemorates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr.
It is an official public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Balearic Islands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moselle, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. The date is also a public holiday in those countries that celebrate Boxing Day on the day in addition to or instead of St. Stephen’s Day, such as Canada and the United Kingdom.
Stephen or Stephan (Greek: Στέφανος, Stephanos), traditionally regarded as the Protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, at his trial he made a long speech fiercely denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would later himself become a follower of Jesus and an apostle under the name Paul.
The only primary source for information about Stephen is the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen was one of the Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jews selected for a fairer distribution of welfare to the Greek-speaking widows in Acts 6.
The Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches venerate Stephen as a saint. Stephen’s name is derived from the Greek language Stephanos, meaning “crown”. Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom; artistic representations often depict him with three stones and the martyr’s palm frond. Eastern Christian iconography shows him as a young, beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon’s vestments, and often holding a miniature church building or a censer.
Wikipedia contributors, “St. Stephen’s Day,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 24, 2014).
Wikipedia contributors, “Saint Stephen,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 24, 2014).
“Paolo Uccello – Stoning of St Stephen – WGA23196” by Paolo Uccello – Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
“St-stephen” by Carlo Crivelli (circa 1435–circa 1495) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by [[:User:Wlkernan|Wlkernan]]. Taken on 14 May 2005. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.