St. Lucy Day

St. Lucy December 13

“Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing

Through darkest winter night, comfort bestowing.

Dreams float on dreams tonight,

Comes then the morning light,

Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.” Swedish Children’s Folk Song

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Already today this December 13 in the darkest hours of the morning (2 a.m. to 4 a.m.), in Sweden and Norway the eldest daughter of a family wearing a white gown, a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and seven blazing candles on her head emerges out of the darkness carrying a tray of rich saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake up her family. Every village also has its own Lucy who goes from one farm to the next carrying a torch to light her way, bringing cookies and buns at each house and returning home by day break. The winner of the Nobel peace prize for literature often has the honor of lighting the candles on the head of the Lucy for the city of Stockholm.

Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights with bonfires with incense and candlelight parades. How in the world did this honoring of St. Lucy become so important in Scandinavia when Lucy was a native of Sicily? The tradition of honoring Lucy may have originated in Sweden with Vikings who traveled south on peaceful trading expeditions to Italy and brought back the stories of the early Christian martyr, Lucia.

December 13 presently is almost the shortest day of the year. Somehow the Scandinavians began to honor a young Sicilian girl, Lucy, whose name means “light” at a time during the darkest part of their year. It is all a mystery but the tradition is beautiful.

I especially honor this day because two friends who carried the light of Christ to so many people died on this day seven years apart. Another light bearer who was our great teacher and friend was initially to have major heart surgery today. So, in my own prayers on St. Lucy Day, I remember special friends who have brought light out of darkness to so many, but remembering especially those in my own life who showed me the light in times of darkness.

This is my Advent thought for you to remember today on St. Lucy Day those who brought the light of Christ, the light of God, the light of the Spirit to you.

This is a special tradition that the Scandinavians have given us to remember the light that shines in our darkness. We can also take the tradition to our homes. In the past, our family has often celebrated St. Lucy Day during the second week of Advent with our oldest granddaughter serving buns at an Advent family service. She dresses in white with a red sash and carries a candle as we all say the traditional song above that Lucy sings on her rounds.