Many are familiar with “Boxing Day,” the holiday that follows Christmas Day in many countries, but you might not have heard of St. Stephen’s Day. This holiday is also on December 26th, and is widely celebrated in Catholic countries around the world.
St. Stephen’s Day, or Santo Stefano in Italian, gets celebrated on December 26th by people throughout Italy, making the day after Christmas one of the many holidays at this time of year. St. Stephen was an Apostle who was given the task of collecting donations for the poor (which is still the tradition of Boxing Day), and was once honored with two feast days (the second, in August, was removed from the Roman Calendar by the Pope in 1960). Today, along with Christmas Day, Santo Stefano is a national holiday in Italy.
Santo Stefano in Rome and Vatican City tends to be spent with family, just as Christmas Day is, although on the day after Christmas you’re more likely to see families enjoying a day out and about rather than at home. Churches dedicated to St. Stephen are particularly good places to be on their saint’s feast day – in Rome, head for the Chiesa di Santo Stefano near the Colosseum. This is also a day for yet another big holiday meal.
While many attractions, shops, and restaurants tend to close on December 25th, most re-open for December 26th. Some remain closed (including the Vatican Museums), so it’s important to check official websites for museums and other monuments you want to visit on that day to see whether they’ll be open. It’s also a good idea to scout out a place to have dinner, just in case some restaurants stay closed until after both holidays.