When I was an undergraduate history student, I was lucky enough to take the History of Christmas with Gerry Bowler (Dr. Christmas, author of the The World Encyclopedia of Christmas). One of the saints that we learned about was St. Lucia, aka St. Lucy. So, what makes Lucy so special?
Lucy “was a Christian virgin of Catania, Sicily, who was martyred in the persecutions of the late third century”(p 135), who is the patron saint of the blind (Lucy > lux >Latin for light), throat infections, and writers, among other things and places. Because she is the patron saint of eyes, she is often illustrated wearing her eyes on a necklace, or holding her eyes on a plate. Gruesome? Yes, but eyeball cupcakes are fun to make!
There are a few different traditions associated with St. Lucy! The first is the Lucy Bride: “a girl dressed in white with a red sash and a crown of candles and lingon berries… At home, she brings coffee and cakes to her parents; in schools or public institutions, she leads a parade of similarly clad young women” (135). St Lucy’s day is always accompanied by a bevy of different desserts and dishes!
The opposite of the Lucy Bride is the Lutzelfrau- “in some parts of Germany… [she is] a witch who rides the winds and must be bribed with gifts; in some parts of central Europe, Lucy takes the form of a nanny goat rewarding the good children and threatening to disembowel the bad” (135). While the Christmas season is mostly happy and positive time for us in North America (aside from stress!), most other areas do have a darker side. Krampus, Lutzelfrau, the bad seem to get what they deserve!
I think that this Google Doodle from 2007 is perfect for the day, and I wish that Google Canada reflected more traditions from around the world!
Do you celebrate St. Lucy’s day?? Do you have any traditions??