Sunday, 26 December 2010

26. December - History

..... known in Ireland as
  St. Stephen's Day

In Irish, it is called (Gaelic) La Fhéile Stiofan or La an Dreonilin
- the latter translates literally as another English name used,

the Day of the Wren

Although now mostly a discontinued tradition,
in certain 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 and Mummers.
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,
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great,
Jump up me lads and give us a treat.

As I was going to Killenaule,
I met a wren upon the wall.
Up with me wattle and knocked him down,
And brought him in to Carrick Town.

Droolin, Droolin, where's your nest?
Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree,
Where all the boys do follow me.

Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
And give us a penny to bury the wren.

I followed the wren three miles or more,
Three miles or more, three miles or more.
I followed the wren three miles or more,
At six o'clock in the morning.

I have a little box under me arm,
Under me arm under me arm,
I have a little box under me arm,
A penny or tuppence would do it no harm.

Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
a very good woman, a very good woman,
Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
She give us a penny to bury the wren.
(this version is popularized by the Irish group The Clancy Brothers)


Boxing Day 


The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those
who were needy and in service positions.

Hundreds of years ago,
during the Age of Exploration when great sailing ships 
were setting off to discover new land,
A Christmas Box was used as a good luck device.
It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port.
It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted
to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box.
It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage.
If the ship came home safely, 
the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange
for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage.
The priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas
when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor
would "box up" their leftover food, or sometimes gifts
and distribute them the day after Christmas 
to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.
Around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes 
and distributed the contents to the poor.

It certainly became a custom of the nineteen-century Victorians
for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts 
on the day after Christmas in return 
for good and reliable service throughout the year.

Another possibility is that the name "Boxing Day"
derives from an old English tradition:
In exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowner's Christmases ran smoothly,
their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families.
The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses.




2. Weihnachtsfeiertag - 'Second Christmas Day'
It is also a Holiday and was invented by Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) 

Happy St. Stepen's Day - Boxing Day - 2. Weihnachtstag 
- or just a good and friendly Day! 

1. Picture: Painting by Susanne Kirwana (www.SuseDolAmroth)
2. Picture by Jobst H. Klemme

This little birdy 'wren' is named in German "Zaunkoenig" - the 'fence king'

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
four Larks and a Wren,
Have all build their nests in my beard!"

by Edward Lear, American Poet and Painter (1812-1888)


  1. Dear Karin, I forgot all about den zweiten Feiertag. No wonder I was so lazy. But went cross country skiing this morning. The snow was just perfect.

  2. Hallo und vielen Dank für den Besuch!

    Nachdem ich bestimmt die Ältere bin :-) werde ich Sie jetzt *duzen*.

    Hallo Karin, ich kenne das Périgord leider nur vom Durchfahren. Kann es sein, dass La Pouyette ein wunderschönes Ferienziel ist und auch ein Ferienhaus beinhaltet?!

    Ich liebe Frankreich und seine vielfältigen Landschaften. Wir sind fast jeden Sommer in der Nähe von Carpentras.

    Mit herzlichen Grüßen!


  3. Hallo Tasiaa,

    ganz herzlichen Dank for your lovely comment!

    Ob Sie/Du nun aelter sind.....das bleibt vorerst dahingestellt, bin mir da nicht so sicher. Koennen wir ja irgendwann mal klaeren, nehme das Du aber gerne an, ist im Moment nur noch etwas gewoehnungsbeduerftig fuer mich.

    Ja so ist es.....La Pouyette bzw. das Périgord ist wunderschoen und sehr speziell. Im Prinzip immer noch ein "Geheimtip" in Deutschland, natuerlich nicht fuer die Englaender. Und ja, wir haben auch ein Ferienhaus, nunmehr seit 5 Jahren und vermieten ueberwiegend and Gaeste aus Deutschland, der Schweiz sowie an ein paar amerikanische Freunde. By now - we have mainly "Stammgaeste".

    Ich muss allerdings sagen, dass das Périgord nicht vergleichbar ist mit der Provence. Um einiges ruhiger, mildly spoken!

    Ich koennte Dir ja mal bei Gelegenheit infos zukommen lassen, lass es mich einfach wissen.

    Schoen, dass Du mich "besucht" hast und wer weiss.....
    Werde in jedem Fall Deinen blog regelmaessig, oder soweit meine Zeit es zulaesst, lesen und freue mich natuerlich, wenn auch Du ab und an mal bei mir vorbeischaust.

    A bientôt - Amicalement
    und herzlichen Gruss - Karin

  4. Dear Gina,

    Well - here we are! I'm pleased to bring some old tradition back to you.
    And I'm envy you because of your skiing! Last time that I was standing (auf Brettern, do you know that old expression?) was in the early 1980s!

    Would love to join you!
    Herzlichen Gruss - Karin