Happy Saint Lucy's Day!

Though little has been retained of her story in the factual record, St. Lucy has been a popular saint throughout Europe, most notably in Sicily (whence she hails) and Scandinavia (where her devotion is linked to the Winter Solstice). Lucy was a virgin martyr, most likely offed by a rejected suitor. Her devotion to her vow of virginity is reason enough to venerate her considering it directly resulted in her persecution and death. She has been listed in the litany for centuries, and cultural celebrations in honor of her feastday have developed in complexity and festivity over time, mostly playing on the meaning of her name (Lucia="light").

I hold cherished memories of this day from childhood, though I bear no Swedish ethnicity. As tradition has it in that country, the eldest daughter of the household carries a tray of sweetbreads to the other members of the home on Dec. 13 mornings. As she progresses from room to room, she sings the famous carol, "Santa Lucia".

My mother, when a senior in her high school chorus, was cast in a Christmas pageant featuring a review of all the international folk celebrations of the season. She was chosen to sing the St. Lucy carol; to this day- every St. Lucy Day- my mother sings us the song in flawless Swedish. When we were younger, we would enjoy Orange Pekoe Tea and shortbread cookies after dinner, and more than once my mother wore the wreath of candles.

Here is the carol:

Natten går tunga fjät
rund gård och stuva,
kring jord, som sol förlät,
skuggorna ruva.
Då i vårt mörka hus;
stiger med tända ljus,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

which translates as:

Santa Lucia,
Thy light is glowing,
through darkest winter night,
comfort bestowing.
Dreams float on dreams tonight;
comes then the Morning Light-
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

In Italy, this would be a song the Gondoliers would perform.

Follow these links for more ways to cherish the day:
Penitents' Page
School of the Seasons
American Catholic
Catholic Culture

She holds a tray with eyeballs not only because Lucy means light, and the eyes were considered the lights or windows into the soul, but also because that was the purported torture of her jealous suitor, that he cut our her eyes-- either so she could look on noone else as her husband or so she could not look on the Christ she claimed as her spouse.

Pray for young girls everywhere that they refuse to heed the Father of Lies and listen instead to the Prince of Light~

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