26 December 2012

26 December - Saint Stephen

Weather - If on St. Stephen’s Day there is much wind, it betokens a bad grape harvest next year, and the wine will be poor. [Boo. What if it's only a little wind? A barely-move-the-branches wind?]

Weather today foretells the weather of February.

If the sun shines on the second day of Christmas, then money will be easily come by. [come on, sunshine!]


Returning to the traditions concerning horses and St. Stephen’s day, today was a great day for racing.  The horses might be ridden to church and there raced four or five times around it, while the priest blessed the animals and sprinkled Holy Water on them.  In Munich, up to 1876, men on horseback would ride three times around the interior of the church [obviously, no pews had invaded the building].   In another German district, the winner of the early morning race was called “Steffen” and honored throughout the day, most noteably at the local inn. 

In southern Denmark, stablehands would visit their colleagues at other farms early in the morning, groom their horses together, and then ride around the farmyards making a great deal of noise until the inhabitants woke up, upon which the noisemakers were treated to beer and liquor [the thus rudely awakened inhabitants were much more lenient than I would be, trust me.In Sweden, 1:00 am (0100) saw a frenzied race to a spot where the water flowed northward.  The horse who first drank “the cream of the water” was expected to flourish all the year; his rider was treated to a more potent potable than Adam’s Ale.  In Sweden also, bands of youths would race before daybreak from one village to the next, waking the good folk with their noise, for which they expected to be rewarded with ale and spirituous drinks.

This is also Boxing Day, the first weekday after Christmas.  A very good time to remember all those who have given you good service throughout the year – the postal delivery person,  the kid who pumps your gas for you, the church secretary, your veterinarian, the auto mechanic or plumber who can always managed to fit you into their schedules when it’s an emergency... I'm sure you can think of people to thank.  A mince pie is traditional, but cookies work... or maybe something in the line of filled chocolates (the filling is up to you.)

Last year, the recipe in honor of St. Stephen was “Dublin Rock”, but if you don’t feel up to the challenge, make cupcakes (your choice of flavors and frostings) and top with those hard candies that are decorated to look like small rocks or pebbles [you can find them in some of the larger craft stores, or wedding or bakery supply stores.  They can also be ordered online, but obviously not in time for today’s treat.]  There is also that breakfast cereal in the shape of pebbles, or you can make rocks out of marzipan.