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Catholic Activity: Celebrating for the Feast of St. Lucy

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St. Lucy (Lucia) feast day brings many different types of celebrations in various countries. Her feast is also tied in with the celebration of light and winter, as her name means light and her feast day originally coincided with the winter solstice, which marked the shortest day of the year.

DIRECTIONS

Croatia: It is a Croatian custom to plant the Christmas wheat on the feast of St. Lucy. Plant the seeds into a small dish of soil, and place the dish in a moderately warm room, keeping it watered. By Christmas Eve the fresh shoots of wheat should be about 8 inches of a soft green. The wheat then can be placed next to the manger or crib scene as a gift to Jesus and a reminder to us of the Eucharist which feeds our souls and also as the staff of life which nourishes all of mankind. It can also be used a table decoration, with a candle placed in the center.

Italy: Santa Lucia is celebrated all over Italy. Sicilians still commemorate Santa Lucia's intervention during a severe famine in 1582. Miraculously, ships filled with grain appeared in the harbor on December 13. The people were so hungry that they didn't take the time to grind the grain into flour but boiled the grains immediately. Sicilians refuse to eat anything made of wheat flour for this day, which means forgoing pasta and bread. Instead they eat a most popular dish called cuccia which is made with boiled whole wheat berries, ricotta and sugar.

In Lombardy and Veneto, goose is eaten on this day, and it is Santa Lucia who brings the presents to children, not Father Christmas or Befana. She travels on a donkey on the eve of December 13, and children leave bowls of milk and carrots and hay to attract the hungry donkey and make sure Santa Lucia stops at their house.

Santa Lucia is most revered in Udine, Venice, where her bones lie buried. Frico, or Fried Cheese Wedges is a favorite food of this day. This another day that children receive gifts, and the children sing for this feast:

Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia Fill my stocking with candies If my mother won't do it My stocking will stay empty But with father's money Saint Lucia will prevail.

Sweden: This is a special feast day in Sweden, called Luciadagen. It is a time-honored tradition to have the oldest girl in the family wearing a white dress and crimson sash and stockings. She has a wreath crown with white lighted candles. At dawn she wakes up members of the family with steaming coffee and Lussekatter (saffron buns), or some other favorite sweet rolls or bread.

Wearing lighted candles just seems to be an invitation to disaster, so substitute lighted candles and wreath with an electric battery operated wreath or make a bread in the shape of a ring and place candles in it.

Jennifer Gregory Miller Jennifer G. Miller

Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2014 by Jennifer Gregory Miller

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