Following the Roman calendar from 1969, the Christmas season goes from the day of Christ’s nativity until the Sunday after Epiphany. The celebration of the Christmas Day extends through the next 8 days (octave). Saints commemorated during this period (St. Stephen, St. John, the Holy Innocents) count as comites Christi – the honorary companions of the Divine Child.
The Acts of the Apostles report about Stephen, one of the seven deacons, who were assigned to provide for Greek speaking widows in the Christian community of Jerusalem. Once a persecution of Christians broke out, Stephen was arrested, professed his faith in Christ in front of the leadership of the Jewish nation, and was stoned to death.
A feast of saint Stephen is attested since the 4th century in the Christian East and it spread in the West during the 5th century. The discovery of his relics in Jerusalem can be dated to the year 415. Many churches and chapels have been dedicated to saint Stephen since.