ST. STEPHEN'S DAY
St. Stephen's Day or Wren Day is celebrated in Ireland on December
twenty-sixth. On this day children used to dress up in old clothes and paint
their faces. They would go from house to house carrying holly bush and singing
the wren boys song (The hunting of the wren on St. Stephen's day was an old
custom.) The children would be given some food or a few pence, similar to our
caroling. Groups of older people (adults) would go from pub to pub singing and
playing musical instruments.
Another St. Stephen's day tradition was the hunt. This hunt would often be for
the wren (who supposedly betrayed St. Stephen) or it could be a foxhunt.
Families would bundle up and go out to the hunt and then enjoy a picnic. This
picnic would include Christmas Day leftovers. The centerpiece of the food would
be St. Stephen" Day stew made up of turkey, ham or bacon, vegetables, and other
leftovers served hot. Cakes and pies would be served for dessert. After the hunt
many people would go to the local pub for hot punch and entertainment.
Today, St. Stephen's Day is often celebrated at home. The tradition is carried
on in some Irish-American households with a St. Stephen's Day party. An
excellent musical addition to the party is the Chieftains Bells of Dublin. This
is a Christmas/St. Stephen's Day album. We should all try to celebrate St.
Stephen's Day in true Irish tradition.,