DECEMBER 13 - The Feast of Santa Lucia

DECEMBER 13 - The Feast of Santa Lucia

Shown above:  #224 – Lucia,   #431 – Lucia Crown

Lucia, Feast of  St. Lucy
(Ancient Swedish, Scandinavian Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox)

Lucia or Lussi Night happened on December 13, what was supposed to be the longest night of the year. The feast was later appropriated by the Catholic Church in the 16th century as St. Lucy's Day. It was believed in the folklore of Sweden that if people, particularly children, did not carry out their chores, the female demon, the Lussi or Lucia die dunkle would come to punish them.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Santa Lucia
The Santa Lucia holiday is celebrated in Norway and Sweden on 13th December each year. This holiday, also celebrated in some of the United States, such as Minnesota where there are many Scandinavian communities, honours an Italian martyr named Saint Lucia. Like many Winter festivals, its central feature is lights.

Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucia, or Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights. Traditionally, in the early hours of the morning of 13th December a young woman, dressed in a white gown, and wearing a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and blazing candles, would go from one farm to the next carrying a torch to light her way, bringing baked goods, stopping to visit at each house and returning home by break of day. Every village had its own Lucia. The custom is thought to have begun in some of the richer farming districts of Sweden and still persists, although the crowns are now electric lights.

In Norway and Sweden it is still a custom on December 13 for a girl in a white dress (representing the Saint), to bring a tray of saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake the family. She is called the Lussibrud (Lucy bride) and her pastry (saffron buns) is Lussekattor. Today many families have a Lucia-Queen in their own home, often the youngest daughter, who wakes the rest of the family with song.

The historic Saint Lucia is said to have been beheaded by the sword during the persecutions of Diocletian at Catania in Sicily. Her body was later brought to Constantinople, and finally to Venice, where she is now resting in the church of Santa Lucia. Because her name means "light" she very early became the great patron saint for the "light of the body" - the eyes.

Lucia symbolises light and growth for man and beast as she emerges out of the darkness. Many of the ancient light and fire customs of the Yuletide became associated with her day. Thus we find "Lucy candles" lighted in homes and "Lucy fires" burned outdoors. Before the Reformation Saint Lucy's Day was one of unusual celebration and festivity because, for the people of Sweden and Norway, she was the great "light saint" who turned the tides of their long Winter and brought the light of day to renewed victory.

Before the calendar reform, her original feast day (the day of her martyrdom) happened to fall on the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice was 13th December by the Julian calendar (rather than 21st December, which it became with the change to the Gregorian calendar in the 1300s), linking it with the far older Yule and Winter festivals of pre-Christian times. Lucy's lore survived the Reformation and calendar reform, which brought the Solstice to December 23.

Another Scandinavian custom, on the eve of December 13, was for children to write the word "Lussi" on doors, fences, and walls. In ancient times the purpose of this practice was to announce to the demons of Winter that their reign was broken on Saint Lucy's Day, that the sun would return again and the days become longer. "Lucy fires" used to be burned in many parts of Northern Europe on December 13. Into the bonfires people would throw incense, and while the flames rose, trumpets and flutes were playing to celebrate the changing of the suns's course.

Glogg – A Scandinavian Holiday Tradition

Glogg is a traditional Scandinavian drink for this time of year. It is a hot drink that works just as well at parties as it does after skiing. In Scandinavian countries most people will buy glogg concentrate. Since we don’t have that luxury here, I have, over many years, refined my own recipe through trial and error. You may alter this recipe depending upon how many people you intend to serve. This recipe is enough to make about 12 10-ounce servings.


4 75-ml bottles of red wine (no need for a vintage here - Ernest & Julio Gallo will do just fine)
2 cups of dessert wine (sherry, Madeira, port or similar)
2 cups of raisins
3 cardamom sticks
3 cinnamon sticks
20 whole cloves
2 cups of chopped/slivered almonds
4 cups sugar

Let the raisins and spices soak in 2 cups of dessert wine over night. It is a good idea to keep the spices in a tea bag, as they are only intended for flavor and not for consumption. Pour the spice mix into a large pot, add the red wine, sugar and almonds. Heat, but do not boil. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

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