Thursday, December 13, 2012

St Lucia





 

In Swedish. Merry Christmas is 'God Jul' I  have known that since I was a youngster, because all of my neighbors were of Swedish ancestry.  Also knew a a few things about St. Lucia, like her very name meant light. And that one lucky girl  got to be her in a church pageant right before Christmastime.  One year it was my neighbors younger daughter, and of course all of the neighborhood was so proud, she was radiant standing in their kitchen wearing her beautiful white robe, red sash and  a wreath of candles in her hair.
I learned from another neighbor, that back in Sweden, when she was  very young the oldest girl in the house would get up very early and make coffee and pastry, dress up in a white robe and wearing a wreath with candles and she and her siblings would serve breakfast to their parents. 
he Holiday had been celebrated on western Sweden for some time but after the 1920s it spread through the rest of the the country. Also celebrated now in the other Scandinavian countries, Bosnia, Croatia, and France also in parts of Italy.  In parts of Italy children leave a sandwich for St Lucia and her donkey, because they bring the children their gifts.

St Lucia was from the  Syracuse on the island of Sicily, she brought food to the poor and imprisoned, since she did  this under cover of darkness, she wore a wreath of candles so she could keep her hands free. For her her good deeds she was to be condemned to death and  was martyred in 304AD.
 The 13th of Dec is also the date of the Winter Solstice on the Julian calender, and though the story of St Lucia was probably brought to Sweden by traveling Monks, her crown of candles should also remind us of the returning sun especially during short days and long nights at the time of the Solstice.  A young woman wearing a wreath of lit candles lead a procession  recalling the promise of the returning sun   Boys  also join in the procsession, wearing pointed hats and carrying wands bedecked with stars, they are the "Star Boys" and some dress as the Tomten the guardian of every farmhouse and village.



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