Sunday, December 26, 2010
Good King What's-his-ass
"Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the Feast of Stephen..."
The Feast of St. Stephen is a public holiday in several countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy, and many more) and is celebrated on December 26 (or 27 by the Eastern Orthodox folks). St. Stephen was the first martyr of the Christian church, having been stoned to death after being charged with blasphemy against Judaism.
December 26 is also known as the more secular Boxing Day in many countries; however, if Christmas or December 26 falls on a weekend, sometimes Boxing Day can officially be observed on the following Monday or Tuesday. Controversy over the origin of the name of Boxing Day is described by Snopes.com.
Boxing Day is traditionally when the lord of the manor presented gifts or bonuses to his servants. It may now be observed with the giving of gifts to those who have provided service throughout the year, such as a tip for the paper boy, or by donating items or money to the poor.
The legend of Good King Wenceslas definitely involved giving items to the poor. If you read the lyrics of the Christmas carol, Wenceslas went out into the cold with a servant to deliver meat and fuel to those less fortunate. The servant was about to succumb to the cold but was miraculously warmed by walking in the footsteps of his master. King Wenceslas was actually a duke in his day but was canonized a saint and also posthumously conferred the title of King by a Holy Roman Emperor.
Regarding the earrings in the photo, I got them off eBay and am relying on the honesty of the seller/maker that the art is actually a rendering of St. Stephen. The earrings are made from dominoes. I once had a tiny pair of plastic boxing gloves that I could fashion into earrings for Boxing Day, but I haven't seen them lately. I'd be pleased to wear a pair of Christmas present earrings for Boxing Day, too, or two turtle dove earrings if my true love gave them to me, as today is also, of course, the second day of Christmas.