St. Stephen's DayDecember 26
, the day following Christmas Day
, is called St. Stephen's Day
in the Republic of Ireland
. It is a public holiday
. It commemorates St. Stephen
, the first Christian martyr
or protomartyr. In Irish (Gaelic
) it is called both Lá 'le Stiofán and "Lá an Dreoilín" - the latter translates literally as the "Day of the Wren". This name alludes to several Irish legends linking episodes in the life of Jesus
to the wren
. In parts of Ireland persons carrying either an effigy of a wren, or an actual caged wren, travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing. Depending on which region of the country, they are called Wrenboys
. A Mummer's Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, Co. Galway. St Stephen's Day is also a popular day for visiting family members.
- A popular rhyme, known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers goes as follows:
"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze.
Up with the penny and down with the pan.
Give us a penny to bury the wren".
In the United Kingdom, St. Stephen's Day is known as Boxing Day