St. Stephen’s Day

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Why does the church celebrate St Stephen immediately after Christmas Day. Is it to remind us of the radle to grave pilgrimage we are on and to witness strongly to our faith no matter what, and especially, like Stephen and Jesus, to forgive and be reconciled with our enemies?


A: You’re probably in the ballpark about St. Stephen’s Day. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Gregory of Nyssa testified that his feast was celebrated on the 26th of December in the late fourth century, so it’s a pretty old tradition, and by that time December 25 would have been established as the date for Christmas. We have no evidence about when Stephen actually died, so it’s probably a deliberate choice to put the protomartyr into place on the day after the birth of Christ.