After Christmas Day follows three more major holy days in the church calendar, of varying degrees of likelihood for Christmas-themed celebration: St. Stephen (the 26th), St. John (the 27th), and the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem (the 28th).  This picture from an old children’s book captures their summary quite neatly:

december

It should be noted that the word martyr in Greek means “witness”.  These all witnessed to the gospel of Christ in powerful ways.  Stephen was killed for his faith and preaching.  John was almost killed for the same.  The Holy Innocents were slaughtered when King Herod sought to kill the baby Jesus.  You can read more about these holy days in last year’s posts:

Another fun fact with these days is that because they land on consecutive days, none of them have an “Eve.”  The evening of the 25th is the “second vespers” of Christmas, so all of the 26th is St. Stephen, all of the 27th is St. John, and all of the 28th is Holy Innocents.  Normally, liturgical time begins at sundown – at Evening Prayer – but Christmas Day is significant enough that it keeps its “second” evening to itself, starting a sort of chain reaction of major feast days that don’t get extra time before their morning begins.

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