Tomorro is St. Lucia's Day! It is one of the shortest days of the year, and appropriately a feat day for a Saint whose name means Light!
We Celebrate St Lucia's day in my family. We have always celebrated St Lucia's day. Oddly this is a Church Feast Day that seems to have originated in Scandanavia.
Now, my family is Scots-Irish-Welsh. We have no Scandanavian ancestry. It took me a long time to figure this one out. As a Child my Mother's neighbours were an older couple from Scandanavia. They taught her all about St. Lucia's Day and she adopted it as one of our family traditions. So, in our rather Celtic family, we always celebrate St Lucia's day! i look at it as a wonderful by product of adapting and living in America.
St Lucia was a young Christian lady who lived years ago. She was intended to marry an unbeliever. She refused to marry this man despite pleas of her Mother. She was subsequently tortured by her intended. It is said that he attempted ot burn her, but that she survived the fire through prayer, and was eventually killed by a knife to the heart.
These stories were brought to Scandanavia and Sweeden by Missionaries. Lucia was said to be compassionate and kind, and was dubbed "The Lucia Bride" as she was said to go out early in the morning to bring sustenence to the poor while wearing white robes and a crown of light.
These days this act of charity is replicated traditionally with the eldest daughter wearing a crown of candles, and a white gown awaking the home with breakfast and a St Lucia Song. Below is one such song in English.
Song for Santa Lucia
The night goes with weighty step round yard and (stove i.e. house, hearth?) round earth. The sun's departure leaves the woods brooding. There in our dark house, appears with lighted candles Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
The night goes great and mute. Now one hears its wings in every silent room murmuring as if from wings. Look at our threshold. There she stands white-clad with lights in her hair Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia
The darkness shall soon depart from the earth's valleys thus she speaks a wonderful word to us. The day shall rise anew from the rosy sky. Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
The traditional food for St Lucia's day is Lussekatt a bun with saffron, which is quite yummy when hot!
Sine then this celebration has taken on big porportions in the Nordic countries with many choosing to elect a "St Lucia Pagent queen type person" and Many towns holding processionals of Little girls in white at St Lucias and little boys in white called "Star Boys"
In our house, my Mother went a few steps further. Being that St. Lucias day falls convieniently about 2 weeks from Christmas, she found a way to use this holiday to calm frazzled children who really just wanted to see what Santa was going to bring them!
My Mother invented the tradition of the "Sharing toys"
Every year on St. Lucia's day my sister and I would recieve a gift of "Sharing toys" These toys were to be shared by both of us equally, and essentially were always the "same" They were always pieces for a woodeen village we kept in a tin. Because my Mom added to the Sharing toys each year, some of them didn't match well. We had people that were bigger than houses and such, btu they were all made out of wood and immensley interesting to play with on cold days. We would set up villages and rearrange things daily. Here is a look at the nativity scene we had….
The trick about the sharing toys (named to
encourage us to share, duh) was that they were
fun without being *too* fun. My sister and I never
cared that much about them to fight over them.
We got them out each year around the holidays and
had a good time with them. Over the years we got so
many little wooden things that it really had too many to fight over.
My sister and I of course took turns being the Lucia Bride. Oddly, I think we were allowed real candles, despite the risk to our hair. Mom would make up the rolls the day before and then early in the morning we would re-enact this ceremony (with my mom taking a jillions photos). Afterwards we would have a nice breakfast of Lucy buns, get our new sharing toys and set up new fantasy villages for the holiday.
This tradition in my family, while slightly unusual, is very special to me. We don't celebrate it in the same way since we are all so far away, but thinking of it gives me a CHristmassy feeling!