Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel…
“Good King Wenceslas” is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen. During the journey, the king’s page is struggling against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by the warmth emanating from the good king’s footprints in the snow.
The Feast of Stephen (or St Stephen’s day) was traditionally the day when people gave money and other gifts (or “Christmas boxes” filled with goodies) to the poor, and to servants and tradesmen for good and reliable service throughout the year. In exchange for ensuring that Christmas ran smoothly in the wealthy households, servants were allowed to take the 26th of December off to visit their families. Their employers gave each one a box containing gifts and leftover food to take with them. Hence the day also became known as “Boxing Day”
Food & Drink
St Stephen’s day pie – a pie similar to cottage pie made out of Turkey and Ham (probably left over from the day before). Plenty of leftover drink too!
When is the Feast of Stephen / Boxing Day?
St Stephen’s day is celebrated on 26th December in the Western Church and 27th December in the Eastern Church. “Boxing Day” is usually celebrated the day after Christmas Day, which is 26th December, however, strictly speaking, Boxing Day cannot fall on a Sunday as that is considered a day of worship. So in 2010 it is actually on Monday 27th December.