By Clement A Miles

The following is a section from Clement A. Miles’ 1913 book ”Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan”. The original hyperlinked footnotes have been left in (marked { } ). These will show you the original footnotes at Project Gutenberg. Amos Staff has modernized some spelling, made small adjustments to sentences, added some illustrations, and added notes of our own (marked [ ]).

The most striking thing about St. Stephen’s Day [1] is its connection with horses. St. Stephen is their patron [2]; in England in former times they were bled on his festival [*]in the belief that it would benefit them,{2} and the custom is still continued in some parts of Austria.{3} In Tyrol it is the custom not only to bleed horses on St. Stephen’s Day, but also to give them consecrated salt and bread or oats and barley.{4} [3]

In some of the Carinthian valleys where horse-breeding is specially carried on, the young men ride into the village on their unsaddled steeds, and a race is run four or five times round the church, while the priest blesses the animals, sprinkling them with holy water and exorcizing them.{5}[…]

Horse Customs of St. Stephen’s Day — Amos-Cola