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St Stephen's Day a public holiday since 1871


Eric Cartman

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Dec 16, 2010
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I always wondered whether St Stephen's Day is an authentic holiday or whether the newly-established Free State authorities simply re-branded 'Boxing Day'.

Here's the answer: St Stephen's day has been a public holiday since the 1871 Bank Holidays Act.

It was likely indeed celebrated before that as is in many countries on the Continent e.g. Catalonia, Alsace-Lorraine and others.

The Act designated four Bank Holidays in England, Wales and Ireland (Easter Monday; Whit Monday; First Monday in August; Boxing Day in England and Wales and St Stephen's Day in Ireland), and five in Scotland (New Year's Day; Good Friday; First Monday in May; First Monday in August; Christmas Day).

In England, Wales and Ireland, Good Friday and Christmas Day were considered traditional days of rest (as were Sundays) and therefore it was felt unnecessary to include them in the Act.
Good Friday has never been a legal public holiday, St Patrick's day was added sometime before independence (1903), then Halloween Bank Holiday (1977), and the most recent public holiday added was May Day (1994):


New Year's Day (1 January)
St. Patrick's Day (17 March)
Easter Monday
First Monday in May, June (Whit), August
Last Monday in October
Christmas Day (25 December)
St. Stephen's Day (26 December)

Now then, am I to assume that the North never observed 'Boxing Day' until sometime after 1922?? Is that correct?
 

GabhaDubh

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Ahh, the kindness of the Master to the servants who worked up to, and on Christmas day, a box with a present in it. Brings a tear to my eye.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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Oct 12, 2009
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Could be...

come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,[2] which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.
 

Eric Cartman

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Dec 16, 2010
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Time to resurrect this thread, the season that's in it. I still wonder did Protestant s in the North celebrate St Stephens day until 1921? Is 'Boxing Day' a myth....?
 

Frank Galton

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Jan 15, 2011
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And don't forget the holidays we kept for the King's birthday and Empire day, at least in the public sector ...
 
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