Saint Lucy's Day

Saint Lucy's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day observed on 13 December. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, an early-4th-century virgin martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution,[1] who according to legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candle lit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.[2][3] Her feast day, which coincided with the shortest day of the year prior to calendar reforms, is widely celebrated as a festival of light.[4][5] Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy's Day is viewed as a precursor of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ in the calendar on Christmas Day.[1][6]

Saint Lucy's Day
Celebration of Saint Lucy's Day in a Church of Sweden congregation in December 2006
Observed byRoman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans among others
Liturgical colorRed
TypeChristian
Date13 December
Next time13 December 2022 (2022-12-13)
FrequencyAnnual

Saint Lucy's Day is celebrated most widely in Scandinavia and in Italy, with each emphasising a different aspect of her story.[2] In Scandinavia, where Lucy is called Santa/Sankta Lucia, she is represented as a lady in a white dress symbolizing a baptismal robe and a red sash symbolizing the blood of her martyrdom, with a crown or wreath of candles on her head.[7]

In Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Swedish-speaking regions of Finland, as songs are sung, girls dressed as Saint Lucy carry cookies and saffron buns in procession, which symbolizes bringing the Light of Christ into the world's darkness.[7][8] In both Catholic and Protestant churches, boys participate in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmastide, such as that of Saint Stephen or generic gingerbread men [Santa Claus] [Santa Clauses] or nisses. The celebration of Saint Lucy's Day is said to help one live the winter days with enough light.[7]

A special devotion to Saint Lucy is practiced in the Italian regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, in the north of the country, and Sicily, in the south, as well as in the Croatian coastal region of Dalmatia. In Hungary and Croatia, a popular tradition on Saint Lucy's Day involves planting wheat grains that grow to be several centimetres tall by Christmas Day, representing the Nativity of Jesus.[6]


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