Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Saint Lucy's Day - Monday, December 13

Monday, December 13th  is the Feast of St. Lucy, also known as St. Lucia Day. 

Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia) was a young virgin martyr in Syracuse, Sicily (Italy) in the late 200s A.D. who was put to death in 304 A.D. Excavation in Syracuse revealed a tomb dating to the 4th century with an inscription that it belonged to St. Lucy (her relics were removed hundreds of years after her death and are believed to currently be in Venice, Italy). Beyond this, little factual information is known about St. Lucy. Her name, Lucia in Italian, is believed to be derived from the Latin Lux, a term for “light.” The earliest known written information about St. Lucy’s story is from the late 400s, Acts of the Martyrs, which indicates there was already veneration shown to her by that time. By the 6th century, legends about St. Lucy had spread throughout Italy and other parts of Europe. Although the stories vary somewhat, the common theme in all of them is that St. Lucy dedicated herself to Christ and to serving the poor, which angered the pagan to whom she was betrothed. He denounced her as a Christian to the authorities, who then attempted first to drag her to a house of prostitution and then, when they could not physically move her, to burn her – which was also a failure. Ultimately, they ended St. Lucy’s life with a dagger or sword to her throat.

St. Lucy’s legend holds that her eyes were gauged out and God then provided her with new eyes. This came about, it is said, because her pagan suitor loved her beautiful eyes. In some versions of this story, St. Lucy plucked out her eyes herself and gave them to her suitor; in other versions, her eyes were removed by her persecutors. St. Lucy is often depicted holding a small plate with two eyes on it. She is the patron saint of the blind.

Legend has it that St. Lucy delivered wheat and bread to the poor and homebound, and possibly to Christians staying in the catacombs, often in the darkness of night to avoid detection. She would carry a lamp or wear a crown of candles (to free her hands for carrying food) to light her way. Because of this, the lamp and wreath of candles are symbols of St. Lucy

While it may be hard to distinguish fact from legend surrounding this patron saint, one thing is certain: This 3rd century Christian dedicated her life to Christ and to serving others and is an example to us for how we can use our time, talents, and treasure to carry the light of Christ to others in their time of need.

In Sweden, the oldest daughter of a family will wake up before dawn on St. Lucy's Day and dress in a white gown for purity, often with a red sash as a sign of martyrdom. On her head she will wear a wreath of greenery and lit candles, and she is often accompanied by "starboys," her small brothers who are dressed in white gowns and cone-shaped hats that are decorated with gold stars, and carrying star-tipped wands. "St. Lucy" will go around her house and wake up her family to serve them special St. Lucy Day foods." - from Fisheaters

Traditionally the special food is known as Lucia Buns, which is saffron bread, you can find a recipe here. This recipe calls for the bread to be topped with almonds, but I've seen others that called for dried cranberries, grapes or dates. I personally think the dried cranberries add a lovely touch.

Please note (as we did this almost every year), it is also perfectly fine to subsititute the bread with something much simpler, such as . . . canned cinnamon rolls, and apparently we were not the only ones as I've seen literally dozens of posts over the years where families did the same. I did particularly like this idea, however, of braiding the canned dough to form a ring. I don't think I was that creative when my girls were growing up, I just baked them as is, placed them in a circle on the plate and adorned them with candles, which is fine to do as well! The traditional Lucia Buns are shaped into an S, which you will find here, and you could do the same with the cinnamon roll dough. There is no wrong way to make them, so do what is right for your family based upon your time and needs.

We also never had the white dress, red sash, not even the ivy crown with candles, although I always wanted to and "planned to do it next year". Not being a part of a church community that recognizes such things, keeping up with the liturgy was often difficult for me, especially when the girls were little and we were busy with homeschool. Saint Lucy's day was one of those celebrations that was often overlooked, though always with regret because I do find the observance of it quite lovely.

So if your daughter happens to have a white dress, you could easily purchase a length of red ribbon (easy to find this time of year), to make a sash, and as for the crown, there are several lovely options that you can make up in a pinch, including this one made from paper, which I think it lovely and probably my favorite.  There are also instructions for some quick and simple star boy hats for the boys. I always thought the crown would be lovely to make out of felt, but I never got a round to it. You can find an example, and a free pattern, here. But for this year, since I waited SO late to post, you can also find this lovely free printable crown, here.

Other ideas that I've seen that would be easy to pull off are;

If you don't have children in the home, you could easily create a round centerpiece for our dinner table with four white taper candles to symbolize Saint Lucy's crown.  Choose red and white as the the theme for your tablescape, as a nod to the white dress and red sash that she wore.

Apple Star Ornaments - I've always associated stars with St. Lucy, as well, because of the star boys.
or you could make these, which sound delicious and look lovely, too!

Orange and Chocolate Star Cookies

I also found this lovely vintage Betsy McCall paper doll, depicting her celebrating St. Lucy's day. Might be fun to print out for your girls!

Another idea that I think is a lovely tribute, is to honor St. Lucy as the "bringer of light" by going out to see Christmas lights.

And, as is common with so many feasts, a lantern walk at dusk is perfectly lovely idea, as well.

Here is a lovely you tube video of the traditional song being sung by a children's choir in Paris, and below are the words to the song.

Santa Lucia, Thy light is glowing,
Through darkest winter night, Comfort bestowing,
Dreams float on wings of night, Comes then the morning light,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia

Through silent winter gloom, Thy song comes winging to
Waken the earth anew, Glad carols bringing,
Come thou, oh Queen of Night,
Wearing thy crown so bright,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia, Christmas fore-telling,
Fill hearts with hope and cheer, Dark fear dispelling,
Bring to the world's call,
Peace and good will to all,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia

No comments: