Saturday, December 12, 2009

St Lucia Day--December 13

... or St Lucy's Day ... or the Feast of St Lucy ... is celebrated December 13th in Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Norway, Finland, Malta, Italy, Bosnia, Iceland, Bavaria and Croatia. In the United States, people in areas of Minnesota and other states with Scandinavian roots, continue to celebrate the holiday, often centered around church events. (It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia.)

St Lucia Day is a festival of light that marks the beginning of the Christmas season for people from Scandinavian countries. The legend is that St. Lucia comes to make the darkness disappear. Lucia means Light.

In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. To celebrate, a young woman playing the role of St Lucia wears a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles. She wakes the family at dawn and serves them breakfast.

Before the reform of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, St Lucy's Day fell close to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. In Scandinavia this was also the date in the Gregorian calendar earlier celebrated by the heathen population that was afraid of Lucifer, a celebration that still somewhat lives today through the tradition of Lucevaka – to stay awake on the night between 12th till 13th and guard oneself against being taken by Lucifer, lord of darkness, by having an all night party. This is still carried out today mostly by the younger population having great parties. When the light then arrives with the morning, you are safe again.

Last weekend as part of our church's family event, "Christmas Around the World," one of the teen girls portrayed St Lucia in the processional.

In the Scandinavian countries, St Lucia would be surrounded by many young women holding lighted candles. Usually a church procession is led by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession each hold a single candle.

I'm not of Scandinavian descent, but wanted to share this bit of history and culture with you! We've been invited to a Saint Lucia dinner this evening and I'm anxious to see what foods and festivities will be included.

Jesus is the Light of the World--let's celebrate His coming as a baby on the first Christmas, and anticipate His second coming when He will take all believers to live with Him in heaven. JOY in Jesus!


Diane said...

May the Light of the world bless you and your family with bright blessings from above! May He warm your home with joy and laughter. May He bless your New Year with health and happiness. Merry Christmas, sister!!!

Sharli said...

Beautiful Jane - thank you for sharing! It's a good day when I learn something.

thinker said...

oh, thank you for sharing that bit of history & culture. St Lucia - saint of Light... coming to make the darkness disappear... I like that... and to know that we have One who came to actually make that happen... what a precious gift!

Hey Harriet said...

That's very interesting because I had never heard of St Lucia Day. We do have a suburb here in Brisbane called St Lucia :)

I hope you enjoy the festivities!

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