The symbol of “Saint Stephen’s little breads”
Saint Stephen, one of Jesus’ apprentices and the Church’s first martyr, is celebrated by the Orthodox believers today, December 27, on the third day of Christmas. It is said he helps the sick and those involved in justice affairs for a long time. Also on this day, people who are quarrelling must come together and make peace with one another.
An old Romanian tradition says that on St. Stephen it’s good to bring the icon featuring the Saint inside the house, as he helps Christians overcome their health problems.
It is also advisable on this day to give a Saint Stephen’s icon or a new, lighted candle for our sick relatives’ health and for the wealth of the household.
On this day, churches are officiating masses for those who died in dramatic circumstances and food is shared to those bearing Saint Stephen’s name.
In some areas in Muntenia for instance, housewives are baking ‘Stephen’s little breads’, which are some round cakes, swept over with honey. After the cakes are blessed by the priest, they are given to poor children. These little breads remind of the stones that killed Saint Stephen.
In Romania, 472,451 persons are bearing St. Stephen’s name and celebrate their name day.
Most of them are named Ștefan (288,000) and Stefania (100,000), but also other derivate names such as Stefana, Fanica, Fanel, Fana or Fanica.
Saint Stephen is celebrated by the Roman-Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, Evangelic Christian believers on December 26, while the Orthodox and Greek-Catholics on December 27.