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St. Stephen's Day

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EtymologyEdit

 
A portrait of Saint Stephen (between 1320 and 1325) by Giotto, from the collection of the Museo Horne in Florence, Italy. The artist has depicted him with stones on his head, as the saint was martyred by being stoned to death.

Stephen is from Latin Stephanus, from Ancient Greek Στέφανος (Stéphanos), from στέφανος (stéphanos, crown, wreath), from στέφω (stéphō, to put round, to surround) (from Proto-Indo-European *stÁb-, *stÁbʰ-, *stemb-, *stembʰ- (to support; to stomp; to curse; to be amazed)) + -νος (-nos, suffix forming an adjective or noun) (from Proto-Indo-European *-nós (suffix forming a verbal adjective from a verb stem)).

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Proper nounEdit

St. Stephen's Day (countable and uncountable, plural St. Stephen's Days)

  1. (Christianity) A Christian holiday commemorating Saint Stephen the protomartyr (first Christian martyr; died 34 C.E.), falling immediately after Christmas Day (on December 26 in the Western Church and on December 27 in the Eastern Orthodox Church).
    • 1717, William Nelson, “Purlieu”, in Manwood’s Treatise of the Forest Laws: Shewing Not Only the Laws Now in Force, but the Original of Forests, What They are, and How They Differ from Chases, Parks, and Warrens; with All Such Things as are Incident to Either; [...], 4th corrected and enlarged edition, In the Savoy [i.e., London]: Printed by E[lizabeth] Nutt (executrix of J[ohn] Nutt, assignee of Edward Sayer, Esq;) for B. Lintott at the Cross-Keys, R. Gosling at the Mitre and Crown, J. Pemberton at the Buck and Sun, all in Fleet-street; and L. Ward in Inner-Temple-Lane, OCLC 777059181, paragraph 83, pages 283–284:
      And the Commonalty having renewed their Petition on the Friday following, being Chriſtmas Day: And the King's Will being known, and his Warrant obtained, the ſaid Charter, which confirmed the Perambulation, was ſealed on Saturday, being St. Stephen’s Day, in a little Houſe near the Severn, belonging to the Prior of Worceſter, []
    • 1821, Sholto Percy [pseudonym; Joseph Clinton Robertson]; Reuben Percy [pseudonym; Thomas Byerley], The Percy Anecdotes. Original and Select, London: Printed for T. Boys, Ludgate Hill, OCLC 254563900, page 163:
      [] Dugdale, in his Origines Judiciales, gives a long and particular account of the revelry at the Temple, on each of the twelve days of Christmas, in the year 1562. It appears from this document, that the hospitable rites of St. Stephen's Day, St. John's Day, and Twelfth Day, were ordered to be exactly alike; and as many of them are in their nature perfectly rural, there is every reason to suppose they were observed, to a certain extent, in the halls of the country gentry, and substantial yeomanry.
    • 1844 May 28, Edwards A[masa] Park, A Discourse Delivered in Boston before the Pastoral Association of Congregational Ministers in Massachusetts, May 28, 1844, 2nd edition, Andover, Mass.: Allen, Morrill & Wardwell, OCLC 11881180, page 25:
      That order of the Church is the proper one, which disposes men to earnest meditation, which causes men to feel the weight of truth and be humbled under it; and that order is an unworthy one, which occupies the popular mind with deaneries and bishoprics, Michaelmases and Epiphanies, St. John's days and St. Stephen's days. If a preacher wish to present the doctrine of divine sovereignty to his hearers, he must let it pervade all the exercises of the Sabbath, []
    • 1991, Stephen M. Crotts, Saint Nicholas Speaks, Lima, Oh.: C.S.S. Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-55673-399-4, page 17:
      "Feeding the Wren" is a custom based on the legend of Saint Stephen, who was hiding in a bush and betrayed to his enemies by a wren. On Saint Stephen's Day, December 26, the young children gather together, obtain a wren, and place it in a cage on top of a bush while they go from door-to-door collecting money which will be used for charity.
    • 2015, Blythe Gifford, chapter 13, in Whispers at Court, Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Historical, ISBN 978-0-373-29838-9, page 170:
      Late in the morning of St. Stephen's Day, Marc mounted his horse, ready to leave Windsor, Cecily, and all of Angleterre.

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