Friday 13 December 2019


According to tradition martyred on this day during the Diocletian persecutions of the third century, the solemnity of the Feast of Saint Lucy of the Greek colony of Syracuse in Sicily was somehow translated from her native Italy to darkened, northern climes to become a major Advent celebration in Scandinavian lands.
She is depicted wearing a crown of candles so as to free her arms up to carry as many provisions as she could to fellow Christians hiding in the city’s catacombs to hold mass in secret and evade capture and punishment to navigate the passages and locate her community. Until calendar reforms that didn’t take effect in Nordic countries until the 1800s, Saint Lucy’s Day fell on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year—to which she brings light and traditionally marked the beginning of Yuletide. Festivities include choosing a local representative for Saint Lucy and an early morning, pre-dawn procession of children—it being also customary to barge into one’s parents’ bedrooms, even the visiting Nobel laureates still in town since the honours usually fall around the same time being treated to the special intercession, and being served a breakfast of Lussekat, baked buns flavoured with saffron. The day is bookended also with Lucy’s counterpart, Lussi the Witch taking flight and bringing general mischief and possibly misfortune for those who didn’t finish holiday preparations and obligations in a timely manner (see also here and here) from Lussinatta until Christmas.