December 13th is a church feast day celebrated as St. Lucy’s Day to commemorate the virgin martyred saint Santa Lucia of Syracuse, Italy around 300 C.E. She is associated with the winter solstice, the blind, with light, writers, throat infections, famine relief, epidemics, lamps, and swords. The legend is her faith was so strong a team of oxen could not pull her away from her truth.
Her name comes from the Latin “luz” and literally means “light”. Her worship migrated through uncertain means to Scandinavia, where she takes on Germanic, pre-Christian aspects and is celebrated on Lussinatta, or Lussi Night, which echoes the pagan Wild Hunt myth and takes place on December 13th, the solstice of the ancient Julian calendar.
She appears in white, with a crown of candles and a red sash, bringing saffron baked treats. She ushers in the coming of the light, Yule, and the Christmas season. For a captivating and thorough guide to St. Lucy’s Day, please see Joanna Powell Colbert’s “A Crown of Candles: How to Throw a Fabulous St. Lucia Party” e-book. An excerpt from the music section is below.