feast of Stephen


Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even

The words to the carol “Good King Wenceslas” were written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853, the music originates in Finland 300 years earlier. This Christmas carol is unusual as there is no reference in the lyrics to the nativity. Good King Wenceslas was the king of Bohemia in the 10th century. Good King Wenceslas was a Catholic and was martyred following his assassination by his brother Boleslaw and his supporters, his Saint’s Day is September 28th, and he is the Patron Saint of the Czech Republic. St. Stephen’s feast day was celebrated on 26th December which is why this song is sung as a Christmas carol. (From carols.org.uk)

A sunny bright, Christmas Day morning was followed by a cloudy, warmer afternoon with some thawing of our huge layers of snow. Today is Boxing Day as we call it in Canada, and Tapanipäivä in Finland, and it is snowing AGAIN! This inspired our girls (daughters and granddaughters) to sing this carol this morning before Anita and Richard departed for their long drive home.

For all of us this Christmas, Anita had made gorgeous booklets of Christmas carols, with snippets of information about them along with photos of her nieces and winter scenes from around her home near Kamloops. So it was that I learned that the music for this carol originated in Finland 300 years earlier! I could not find the composer’s name through a web search.


Happy Feast of Stephen to all of you! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas or other feast and continue to bask in the warmth of the holidays! We have lots of delicious leftovers to feast on for days, with turkey soup and ham and pea soup to follow in the days ahead.

Boxing Day 2007
Boxing Day 2006
Boxing Day 2005
(Photos taken in our backyard on Christmas Eve day.)

December 26, 2008 in Canada and BC, Culture, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, Folk Legends & Myths, Music by Marja-Leena