One of my best friends, Katherine, is Norwegian and I remember learning a little about St. Lucia’s day from her. Here is a very compact version of “St. Lucy’s Day:”
Around Christmas time in Scandanavia, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to that area.
St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Scandanavia was turned into St. Lucia’s Day.
St. Lucia’s Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. (Normally electric candles are used for safety!) The crown is made of Lingonberry branches which are evergreen and symbolise new life in winter. Schools normally have their own St. Lucias and some town and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung.
In the latest edition of Somerset Holidays & Celebrations a very talented artist made some wonderful boxes topped with little vignettes depicting St. Lucia’s Day. I thought that one of these adorable boxes would be a nice handmade present for my Norwegian friend. ( Actually, I think St. Lucia’s Day is more of a Swedish tradition but I think she’ll appreciate it just the same!) This project was so much fun to do and I love the way it turned out! I hope Katherine likes it!
Now I may have to make one for myself. . .