St. Lucy’s feast day is coming up on December 13th! In this post, I will discuss a little bit about St. Lucy and then go into some specifics about how the feast day is traditionally celebrated and what we like to do on this day! If your family already celebrates St. Lucy’s feast day, please share with us all that you do!
St. Lucy was born in Sicily, Italy in the year 283. We unfortunately do not know too many details about her life, but what we do know is pretty remarkable. She consecrated her virginity to God and wanted to live her life serving the poor. However, her mother had other plans for her and organized an arranged marriage for her to a man named Paschasius. When Paschasius learned about her intentions to remain a virgin, he was terrible to her. He accused her of being a Christian and turned her into Roman authorities, where she was tortured for the remainder of her life until her death. Story has it that they even removed St. Lucy’s eyes in an act of torture. However, when they went to bury her, her eyes had been restored. Because of this, St. Lucy is the patron saint of blindness.
Traditionally on St. Lucy’s feast day, the oldest daughter of the family wears a white gown, a red sash, and a green wreath (often with candles) on her head as a crown. The white gown is meant to signify purity since St. Lucy died a virgin. The red sash represents her martyrdom- she died out of love for God. The wreath on her head means “eternal”- God’s love is never-ending and eternal. The candles bring forth light, which is what her name represents. Lucia means “light.”
The young daughter, all dressed up, will then bring sweet rolls or donuts (something sweet) to her family. In our family, we normally do cinnamon buns! The kids love it since we don’t get them very often!
After we all have our breakfast with cinnamon buns, I will read to them the story Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde. This book is great because it tells the story of the tradition- it’s a family celebrating the feast day and what it looks like for them in Sweden. It also tells the story of St Lucy’s life and her martyrdom. For instance, I always wondered why St. Lucy is celebrated in Sweden when she is actually from Italy! In the book, the author explains why! In the Middle Ages there was a great famine throughout Sweden. They all prayed to St. Lucy and in return, a miracle took place. In the middle of one night, a huge ship was coming into port and on that ship, there was a bright light. When the ship finally got to them, it was St. Lucy, illuminated by a bright light around her. On the ship was bread and it saved the Swedish people! This is why we traditionally have a sweet bread in the morning on St. Lucy’s Day!
Another great tradition on St. Lucy’s Day is to go visit a light show or drive around town looking at Christmas lights! We try to do this every year now- we make a cup of hot chocolates, Christmas cookies (here are the ones we make), pile in the car and go enjoy our neighborhood Christmas lights!