The 23rd annual St. Stephen’s Day Wren Party begins at 7:00pm on December 26 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 235 Limekiln Pike in Glenside.
The evening will feature a céilí (an Irish dance party), a best wren hat contest, and the feast of St. Stephen. The event will be hosted by the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, a worldwide organization that promotes and preserves Irish traditional music, dance, language, and culture.
Coffee, tea, and bar will be available. Please bring a Christmas snack to share along with a lavishly decorated wren hat. The cost for CCÉ members is $10, non-members $15, and children under 12 free.
If unable to attend, you are invited to compete in the contest by making and sharing pictures of your own wren hat. The contest’s categories are adults, kids, and distance (the submission that comes from the farthest away). The grand prize in each category is a $50 Amazon gift card. Winners will be posted on Facebook.
To enter the contest, email a picture of yourself wearing your hat to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12:00pm EST on December 26. Judging takes place that afternoon, with winners announced later that day. Be sure to include your name and where you’re entering from (town or city, state, or country). The judges reserve the right to revise the categories based on the entries received.
For more information about the party or the online wren hat contest, please call 610-517-0143.
About the tradition
St. Stephen is believed to be the first Christian martyr, and, as legend has it, he was tracked down and stoned to death by his enemies, betrayed in his hiding place by the noisy chattering of a wren.
Tradition holds that on December 26, the “wren boys” go from house to house within their towns and villages in Ireland, dressed in colorful clothes, begging for coins, treats and liquid libations. In days of old, they carried the body of a wren on a decorated pole, calling to mind the small bird’s role in betraying the whereabouts of St. Stephen.
The tradition lives on in Ireland—albeit with a fake wren. Glenside’s version is supported by a grant from CCÉ in Dublin.
Feature photo courtesy of Old Moore’s Almanac