Thursday, December 13, 2012


Francisco del Cassa
One of our favorite feasts in Advent is Santa Lucia's Day (St. Lucy ) the 13th of December. Its modern day celebration is generally associated with Scandinavia, where she is one of the few saints observed. The feast is also observed in other countries such as Italy, Estonia, Hungary,  Bosnia, Croatia, Slovakia, Germany, and Spain.
St. Lucy was a young Sicilian girl who vowed to live as a virgin in devotion to Christ. Her mother, however, arranged a marriage for her to a pagan suitor. To dissuade her mother by proof of a miracle, Lucy prayed at the tomb of St. Agatha that her mother's hemorrhage would stop. When the miracle happened, her mother agreed to stop the marriage.

Stephen Whatley, British
St. Lucy's suitor, however, had other plans, and revealed Lucy as a Christian. Authorities went to collect her, planning on forcing her into prostitution, but they were unable to budge her, even after tying her to a team of oxen. She was then tortured by having her eyes torn out. They planned on torturing her by fire, too, but the fires kept going out. She was then killed by being stabbed in the throat with a dagger.

Her feast is tied in with the celebration of light and winter, as her name means light and her feast day originally coincided with the winter solstice, which marked the shortest day of the year.

Some of the loveliest St. Lucy's Day customs are Swedish: 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. "St. Lucy" will go around her house and wake up her family to serve them special St. Lucy Day foods, such as St. Lucy bun, a rich yeast-leavened sweet bun that is flavoured with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg and contains currants.

Sharon Furner
In the United States it is celebrated with cookies on the mantel in states where there is a large number of people of Scandinavian ancestry, often centered around church events, such as Ballard, near Seattle.

One of the best customs I have read regarding this saint of light comes from Croatia. It is the custom to plant the Christmas wheat on the feast of St. Lucy.  By Christmas Eve the fresh shoots of wheat should be about 8 inches of a soft green. The wheat is then placed next to the manger or crib scene as a gift to Jesus and a reminder to us of the Eucharist which feeds our souls and also as the staff of life which nourishes all of mankind.

St. Lucia is the patron saint of the city of Syracuse in Sicily, where she was born and patroness of those with eye problems, often being depicted carrying her eyes.

James Ressell May, Kentucky

No comments:

Post a Comment