Where Santo Stefano Comes From

Have you ever spent the Christmas period in Italy?

If you have, you probably know that after the big Christmas celebration, on the 26th December people have another important holiday: Santo Stefano.

It is a Christian festivity dedicated to the first martyr, Stefano, who preach the word of God and converted many people to Christianity. For this reason he was accused by the Jewish to be blasphemous and stoned to death around the 36 A.C.

Apart from the historical facts, behind this festivity there is a lovely legend.

Just after Jesus Christ’s birth, many women went to visit him with their children to ask for his blessing. Among this big group there was a young woman, Tecla, who hadn’t had a child yet but really wanted to. So she brought a stone covered with a blanket pretending that it was a baby. When the Virgin Mary discovered that, she asked Tecla what she was holding in her arms. When she replied that she was holding a boy, Mary encouraged her to breastfeed the baby as the stone had transformed in a child, but she also warned Tecla saying that the baby came from a stone and would be stoned to death one day, predicting what happened years later.

Nowadays people celebrates Santo Stefano with their family, eating typical food and spending all day playing boardgames, especially tombola (bingo) and cards. Another tradition is going for a trip in the countryside and having a barbecue with family and friends if the weather is nice.

If you are in Italy, a good idea to spend this day is going to Prato, in Tuscany, as Santo Stefano is its saint protector and is celebrated with a procession and some amazing food festivals where it is possible to taste local products and Christmas sweets.

What about your country? Do you celebrate the 26th December?

And if you are in Christmas mood, read more about this festivity here.

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