Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In various parts of Ireland on St. Stephen's (Boxing) Day, December 26th, Wrenboys (Mummers) celebrate the Wren (also pronounced as the Wran) by dressing up in straw masks and colourful clothing and, accompanied by traditional céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages. The tradition also exists (or existed) in various parts of Britain, especially Wales.
The Wren celebration has descended from Celtic mythology. Druids apparently studied the flight of the wren, amongst other birds, to derive predictions about the future. Various associated legends exist, such as the Wren bird being responsible for betraying Irish soldiers who fought the Viking invaders in the late first and early second millennia, and for betraying the Christian martyr Saint Stephen, after whom the day is named.
This mythological association with treachery is a probable reason why in past times the bird was hunted by Wrenboys on St. Stephen's Day. A captured Wren was killed and tied to the Wrenboy leader's staff pole. Wrenboys no longer practice this aspect of the Wren, although the event is still referred to as Hunting The Wren. Devoted Wrenboys, with their colourful straw costumes and masks, and with the accompanying céilí bands, continue to ensure that the Gaelic tradition of celebrating the Wren continues to this day.
- Hunting the Wren on the Dingle peninsula - An excellent account of the origins, history, contemporary aspects and international connections of the Wren.
- The Battle of Clontarf 1014 - Brian Boru's victory over the Norse Vikings at Clontarf near Dublin, Ireland.
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