St Stephen's Day
St Stephen's Day in Ireland:
The 26th December is known as St Stephen's Day in Ireland. In Northern Ireland it's also known as Boxing Day. In most homes it is a sociable day, when visitors may call in to share some seasonal foods or liquid (usually alcoholic) refreshments. . . . . St Stephens is also the day when a purely Irish phenomenon can be witnessed: the tradition of Hunting the Wren. This is when the Wren Boys take to the streets in colourful costumes and masks, and noisily parade a dead wren on a decorated pole. It's a strange tradition and its origins are often debated. Some say it originated in Pagan times. Others from the Viking invasion. Most opt for a simplified religious reference: the betrayal by a wren of St Stephen who was hiding from the Romans who subsequently killed him for his Christian beliefs. Wren on tree branch This, then, gave the reason for hunting down the wren, and in olden days a bird was, indeed, captured and killed. The Wren Boys would then carry the dead bird on a pole from house to house and beg for money to bury the 'evil bird'. . . .More here.