King Herod feared – based on the report of the wise men from the East – there was a dangerous throne pretendant among the newly born children of Bethlehem (Matt 2:1-12). Thus, he let kill all the boys under the age of two in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16-18). These innocent victims thus bear witness to Christ in the world and God’s care for even the most helpless of people.
A feast of the Innocent Children is first mentioned in a calendar from northern Africa from the year 505. The current Catholic liturgy offers the reading from Matt 2:13-18.
Several popular customs were associated with this feast day in certain countries, for example, a play with a child acting as a bishop.
The Book of Blessings from 1978 envisions a blessing of children on Saint Stephen’s, on the Feast of the Holy Family, or on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.