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Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13: Saint Lucy

Lucy, a young teenager, was martyred for her beliefs in early 4th century Sicily.  In medieval times she is said to have appeared on a boat in Lake Vaanern, bringing sacks of wheat to starving Swedes.  She has been a popular saint in Sweden ever since.

Lucy's name -- Lucia -- comes from the Latin word for "light."  Her feast day comes on one of the darkest days of late autumn, and in Sweden, where nights are particularly cold and dark, there is a delightful custom on the feast of St. Lucy.  The oldest daughter in the house wakes up early and prepares breakfast for her family.  Then, wearing a white nightdress and a crown of burning candles, she carries a tray of food from room to room, waking and feeding her sleeping family.

We are not Swedish, but it's hard not to feel captivated by this custom.  However -- a crown of burning candles?  A candlelit breakfast on a school day?  This has always seemed daunting to me, but this year it occured to me that we don't have to follow "the rules."

First, we decided to celebrate during the evening of December 12 -- the vigil of the feast.  Our evening began with a lovely service of lessons and carols at church.  After supper I read Lucia, Saint of Light and then, before bedtime, I gave each of my daughters a homemade "crown" with battery-operated candles.  Together we prepared trays of cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies and I made some hot chocolate.  We put some Swedish Christmas music on the cd player and the girls carried the trays into the dining room.  Cookies and cocoa by candlelight!  Simple and magical and definitely something we will do again next year.


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