Tuesday, December 26, 2006

December 26


The Twelve Days of Christmas

In the Western Church the Christmas season lasts 12 days.  (This includes the Catholic Church as well as some Protestant churches.)  The 12 days of Christmas begin on December 25th and end on January 5th.  January 6th is the Epiphany.  So you see, in many churches, the Christmas season does not end on December 25th.  It starts on December 25th.  That is why I have decided to continue this journal.  I am not going to continue it all the way until January 5th, but I have decided to continue it through New Year's Day.  It just doesn't seem right to end it abruptly today when the holiday season is still upon us.  So I will finish out the year and end on January 1st.  I hope you are enjoying this journal.   

Sorry I am so late in posting today.  I have not really felt well.  But I wanted to get an entry in today.  Today is a special day.  Today is St. Stephen's Day.  And it is also Boxing Day!  Let me tell you a little bit about both.
St. Stephen's Day
St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian's Saint Day celebrated on December 26th in the Western Church.  St. Stephen was the first martyr for Jesus Christ.  He was martyred (stoned to death) in Jerusalem about 35 AD.  For the success of his preaching and his devotion to Christ, St. Stephen was stoned to death by a mob. As he died, he begged God not to punish his killers. We can read about him in Acts 6-7.
Boxing Day
Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in the UK and Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, and Canada).  It is celebrated on December 26 (the Feast of Stephen). It is a day of giving.  It is also celebrated by many activities.

Boxing Day started in medieval times. Priests would empty their charity boxes in church and give the money and gifts away to those who needed it. 

As time went by, Boxing Day gift giving expanded to include those who had rendered a service during the previous year. This tradition survives today as people give presents to tradesmen (plumbers, electricians, etc), mail carriers, doormen, and others who have helped them. 

To read more about Boxing Day, including Boxing Day activities and fun, here is an article.

Boxing Day in England


Good King Wenceslas

I thought today we would also talk about Good King Wenceslas.  He is also known as Saint Wenceslas.  While we celebrate his Saint's Day on September 28th, we sing the song "Good King Wenceslas" as a Christmas carol.  That is because Good King Wenceslas "looked out on the Feast of Stephen", which of course is December 26.  Here is a biography of Good King Wenceslas.

Good King Wenceslas   ~The Real Story ~


Gospel reading:  Matthew 10:17-22