Star Boys

Star Boys

Starngossar

In parts of central Europe and Scandinavia troupes of costumed children, known as star boys, entertain their neighbors with Christmas carols and dramas on Epiphany. One member of the group carries a long pole from which a bright star, representing the Star of Bethlehem, dangles. Children dressed as the Three Kings, or Magi, follow the star, sometimes accompanied by a retinue of figures associated with the Nativity and other Bible stories. In some areas a child dressed as Judas collects the coins that onlookers offer in return for the children's performances. In recent years some charitable organizations have begun collecting money by sponsoring groups of star boys. In many areas, however, neighbors have traditionally offered the group food and drink, rather than money. In places where young adults take part in these performances, neighbors may invite the group to sample their Christmas cheer. In past times Swedish star boys, called starngos-sar, often arrived at their final destination slightly drunk.

The yearly trek of the star boys reminds onlookers of the journey of the Magi and their final arrival at the stable in Bethlehem on Epiphany. Researchers speculate that this custom evolved out of medieval Nativity plays that reenacted the story of Three Kings. This Epiphany tradition can be found in parts of Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden. (For a similar custom, see India, Christmas in.)

Further Reading

Cagner, Ewert, comp. Swedish Christmas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1959. Foley, Daniel J. Christmas the World Over. Philadelphia, Pa.: Chilton Books, 1963. Henricksen, Vera. Christmas in Norway. Oslo, Norway: Johan Grundt Tanum Forlag, 1970. Russ, Jennifer M. German Festivals and Customs. London, England: Oswald Wolff, 1982.
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003
References in periodicals archive ?
Jo "Joe McNeill should be playho th Bp playing higher football, that's how good he is, and a lot of them Star boys, Brickie [Barry McKervey], Ciaran Burns, Niall Hawkins I played with Niall Hawkins at DC and they are just a class act.
Young children from the International School of Islamabad performed traditional carols with 'Lucia' wearing a crown of candles on her head, while her handmaidens carried a candle and the star boys carried stars on sticks and had paper cones on their heads.
The show will star boys and girls aged from two upwards.
This year's festivities began with the room in darkness as Santa Lucia appeared with "star boys" dressed in white with star-gazer hats and wands, all singing "Santa Lucia."
"I have seen the Rathfriland boys, the East boys, the Crumlin Star boys obviously, probably the three better teams in the Premiership.
Both our star boys will be in action finding you winners all this week ahead of another mega-weekend of racing action, featuring the Cesarewitch and Arc de Triomphe.