The Wran’s Day

Friday, 26 December, 2014

In many parts of Ireland, it was customary on 26 December, Saint Stephen’s Day, for the “Wran Boys” to go from house to house carrying holly bushes decorated with ribbons and singing traditional ditties:

“The Wran, the Wran,
The King of Birds.
Saint Stephen’s morn
Was caught in the furze.
We hunted him up
And we hunted him down
And in the wood
We knocked him down.”

In return for singing, they would be given small amounts of money and the evening often ended in the local pub. One legend about this tradition is that Saint Stephen hid from his enemies in a bush but was betrayed by a chattering wren (“wran”). As a result, the wren, like Saint Stephen, is hunted down and stoned to death.

The wren

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