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The Second Day of Christmas - St. Stephen's Day

by Ian on December 26, 2007

Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Rembrandt

St. Stephen was the first martyr in the Church and is the patron saint of deacons. Read more and take 15% off all clergy wear and vestments today.

You can also order our Beau Veste alb for 25% off. December 26th only!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick Jones December 26, 2007 at 5:28 am

Dear Ian,

Merry Christmas!

If this be the 2nd day of Christmas (as would seem appropriate), then we have 13 days of Christmas, not 12.

I haven’t been able to find anything historically on this, but I’m guessing that this is the first day of Christmas, and that Christmas Day is a day unto itself. That’s why I refer to them as “12 more days of Christmas”.

If you or your readers have any idea, I’d love to know!


Ian December 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

Actually, Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas. January 5th is the last day of Christmas and Epiphany is a day on its own.


danielem December 26, 2007 at 11:09 am

buen camino / via con dios / jesus is the christ.


Patrick Jones December 27, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Well, technically (and by the Lectionary and Liturgy of the Hours), Christmas season goes through the Baptism of the Lord (after which Ordinary Time begins). So the season of Christmas actually continues for a week past Epiphany and the 12 days of Christmas actually seem a bizarre way to count the days of Christmas.

All that said, I’m still curious of the origins and reason behind the 12 Days of Christmas.


Ian December 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm

I think it was actually an accident. It seems that the date of Epiphany was actually standardized before Christmas as January 6. When the date of Christmas was settled there happened to be twelve days in between.

You’re right, it’s not liturgically accurate but it is tradition.


ben December 27, 2007 at 7:54 pm

It is accurate in the extraordinary form.

Christmas is both a day, and octave and a season. The season runs until January 5th, and then with Epiphany, the season changes again. In the old clanedar, Sundays after Epiphany were numbered until Septuagesima Sunday, when the liturgical color changed to violet. There was no ordinary time.

The calendar reform simplified this by extending Christmas and consolidating Sunday’s after Epiphany and the pre-Lent Sundays starting with Septuagesima into Ordinary time.


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