On the 5th day of Christmas the Church remembers the 14,000 Holy Innocents murdered by Herod after the birth of Jesus.
The story is recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 2 verses 13-23. After the birth of Jesus the Magi come from the East. The go and see Herod who tells them to come back and let him know where the Child was born so that he could go and worship him. Herod saw Jesus as a threat to his reign as King and wanted to snuff him out.
After their visit with the Holy Family, the Magi left another way to go home. Herod got mad and ordered that all male children under the age of 2 be murder. Since he was not sure where Jesus was he figured this would get him one way or another. However Joseph had already taken Jesus and Mary to Egypt to avoid this killing.
The Church considered these 14,000 children to be the first Christian Martyrs and on this 5th day after the Nativity commemorates them.
How many Holy Innocents have been murdered since this date? How many innocent children have been abused, neglected, or abandoned? On this day of the Holy Innocents let us pray that God will protect all of the innocents in the world.
When the King was born in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the East. Having been led by a star from on High, they brought Him gifts. But in exceeding wrath, Herod harvested the infants as sorrowing wheat; the rule of his kingdom has come to an end. (Kontakion of the Holy Innocents)