Hooray for St. Stephen's Day!

Today is St. Stephen’s Day. This is an official holiday in Finland and in many other countries. It’s traditionally a feasting day although we never observed that ritual in my family. In the Kuusisto tribe, the day after Christmas was typically the Alka-Seltzer day with perhaps a little hair of the dog solely for medicinal purposes.

The "real" St. Stephen was a troublemaker because he talked about hypocrisy and you can read about his story in Acts. But to make a long story short, St. Stephen pissed off just about everyone in Jerusalem including the future St. Paul (who in those days went by the name of Pee Wee Lefkowitz but who later changed his name to Saul of Tarsus and who later changed his name to Paul because he found that hellenistic christian chicks really dug that name).

Pee Wee had St. Stephen hauled in for blasphemy and they had a show trial which lasted about five minutes. Of course in those days five minutes was a long time and Stephen had a vision in which he saw Jesus seated at the right hand of God. This proves that Stephen was dyslexic. But anyway, he’s the only martyred saint to have had a vision that included both the father and the son together. This is why St. Stephen is the patron saint of father and son dry cleaning establishments.

Since people in general tend to like clean clothing and most folks tend to talk too much, Stephen became a big time saint and there are churches in his name all over Christendom. No one really knows why his day is a feasting day since Stephen was not much of an eater. Nor does anyone really know why his ceremonial day follows Christmas since in real life he was stoned to death in August. (August is the best month for stonings because the ground is dry and the rocks are easy to get ahold of.) Many speculate that the day after Christmas was named for St. Stephen because this is when most people would like to ritually kill their relatives. I am not sure this is a reliable explanation.

As a footnote, I think its of some interest that St. Paul and St. Stephen are kind of a Cain and Able combo in the world of hagiography which proves that you don’t have to be too darned good to become a saint. When you get right down to it, there’s hope for everybody.

S.K.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Hooray for St. Stephen's Day!”

  1. There are many scoundrel saints – the nuns used to tell us as children that God used them to show how any one of us could “improve”! I’ve heard people who pointed out hypocrisy referred to as “prophetic” in church communities, resulting in comments such as “Ahh, he’s a prophet!” with subsequent (fantasized ) stonings in church parking lots that never take place because everyone’s new cars might be damaged.
    Paul’s other name of Pee Wee Lefkowitz has been sadly forgotten by history because , I think, historians do not want him referred to as St. Pee Wee and they could never fit St. Pee Wee Lefkowitz on a saints medallion.

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  2. I knew there was another reason I didn’t like Paul besides his dislike of women and superior attitide. Of course, there is the bacon. The bacon and the pork chops win him big points with me.

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