Happy Boxing Day on the Feast of St Stephen

If you are out and about today, visiting relatives, watching sport, or are crazy enough to be braving the madness and mayhem of the High Street sales, here are some words and images to help calm you down through the pandemonium of a 21st Century Boxing Day.

Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel


Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps

‘Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?’
‘Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.’


Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps‘Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.’
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather


Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps‘Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.’
‘Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.’


Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps
In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


Good King Wenceslas - 1973 Stamps

Words written by John Mason Neale (1816-1866) and published in 1853.
Christmas stamps from 1973 – designed by David Gentleman.


Royal 2 B VII f.233v StephenStephen preaching before three others from The Queen Mary Psalter
(England (London/Westminster or East Anglia?), between 1310 and 1320)
Shelfmark Royal 2 B VII f.233v.

Royal 2 B VII f.234 Stephen
The martyrdom of Stephen from The Queen Mary Psalter
(England (London/Westminster or East Anglia?), between 1310 and 1320)
Shelfmark Royal 2 B VII f.234.

Royal 2 B VII f.306v Saints
Eight saints (martyrs), four in the upper register and four in the lower register,
with or without emblems, including St. Stephen (stones in a napkin)
and St. Clement the pope (an anchor) from The Queen Mary Psalter (England (London/Westminster or East Anglia?), between 1310 and 1320)
shelfmark Royal 2 B VII f.306v.

The images of St Stephen are from the British Library’s collection of Medieval Manuscripts and are marked as being Public Domain Images and therefore free of all copyright restrictions in accordance with the British Library’s Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.


For myself, I will be spending Boxing Day with my family and cats,
snuggled by the roaring log fire.

Black Cats by a fireplace

Happy Boxing Day


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You may also be interested in the following posts
– Christmas in a Tudor town
– Medieval Christmas Stories
– Images from the British Library’s online images from the early modern period
– Images from the medieval illuminated manuscripts

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