Saint Lucy by Cosimo Rosselli, Florence, c. 1470, tempera on panel - San Diego Museum of Art - DSC06640

Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), also known as Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia (Italian Santa Lucia), was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletian persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of seven women, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day, known as Saint Lucy’s Day, is celebrated in the West on 13 December. St. Lucia of Syracuse was honored in the middle ages and remained a well-known saint in early modern England.

Although here in Germany St. Lucy’s Day is not celebrated, I would like to talk a little about her, because she is one more pre-Christmas character.

Lucy’s feast comes during Advent. Her feast originally coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light.

This is particularly seen the in Scandinavian countries, with their long dark winters. There, a young girl dressed in a white dress and a red sash (as the symbol of martyrdom) carries palms and wears a crown or wreath of candles on her head. In Sweden, girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung. It is said in Sweden that to vividly celebrate St. Lucy’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light.

St. Lucia in Sweden

St. Lucia in Sweden

A special devotion to St. 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 Croatian coastal region of Dalmatia. The feast is a Catholic-celebrated holiday with roots that can be traced to Sicily. On 13th of every December it is celebrated with large traditional feasts of home made pasta and various other Italian dishes, with a special dessert of wheat in hot chocolate milk. The large grains of soft wheat are representative of her eyes and are a treat only to be indulged in once a year.

Festa S. Lucia in Syracuse

Festa S. Lucia in Syracuse

But there is another reason, why St. Lucy is important for us and why I write an article of her:

She is the patron saint for all seamstresses, tailors and weavers.

So happy stitching, sewing and weaving!