Italian Word of the Day: Santo Stefano (Boxing Day)

Today’s phrase is part of our Italian Christmas Word Advent Calendar series. Each day throughout December, we’ll post a word or phrase that is related to the holiday season. Enjoy!

The day after Christmas, the 26th of December, is a Christian festivity called Santo Stefano in Italian, which is known as St. Stephen’s Day in other European countries and Boxing Day in the UK and other countries of the Commonwealth.

IPA: /ˈsan.to ˈste.fa.no/

December 26th was a normal working day until it became a holiday from 1947 to extend the Christmas break over two days, similar to il giorno di Pasqua (Easter) and Pasquetta (Easter Monday). In some countries where the Orthodox or Protestant church presides, it is celebrated on the 27th.

I negozi riaprono il 27 di Dicembre, dopo Santo Stefano.

The shops re-open on the 27th after Boxing Day.


Santo Stefano celebrates Saint Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Christian church. His talent as a preacher made him very popular until he was accused of blasphemy by the Jewish community and sentenced to death. Today he is venerated as the protomartyr because he is considered to be the first to have died to testify his belief in Jesus.

There isn’t a precise tradition on the day of Santo Stefano. Usually families eat the leftovers from the day before and spend time together at home.

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