One of the reasons why the name 'Lucia' is special to me is because I grew up celebrating Saint Lucia day at church. No, it is not a Catholic church but this is the one saint that is celebrated. It comes from the Swedish heritage that our church still honors. Sweden celebrates Sankta Lucia on December 13th. I'm assuming most of you reading this blog know about Lucia but I'll tell the story anyway.
Lucia was a young Christian girl from Italy who was said to have given all she had to the poor and was known to secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs under the city. It was said that she wore candles on her head to light the way. She was martyred for her faith in 304 AD. Lucia means light in Italian which is a fitting name since she brought light and hope to others in need.
There are many stories of how this tradition came to be celebrated in Sweden. One version is that the monks that converted Sweden to Christianity brought the story of Saint Lucia in an effort to change the pagan 'festival of lights' tradition on December 13th into Saint Lucia day. The celebration continues, still representing bringing light and hope into the darkest time of the year and marks the beginning of the Christmas season.
Here's my attempt at taking a 'Lucia' photo with Lucia...
It was an effort to get her to be by the light without eating the light. That restriction meant there were a lot of photos like the one above.
We celebrate at church with a breakfast and program that tells the story of Lucia. Here are Sonja and Gwen at the breakfast. They also played a part in the program and did a very impressive job singing in Swedish.
It always ends with the high school girls singing the Swedish Lucia song, one of them taking on the role of Lucia herself complete with a real (and lit) crown of candles. The copper tray and pot carried each year is the one that I inherited from my grandma (who started the Lucia celebration at church many years ago). The tray was a gift for my great-grandmother when her family went on a trip to Sweden without her since she was too young to go. One of the reasons it is special to me is because her initials 'EMJ' (for Elvira Martha Johnson) that are carved into the tray are the same as mine (Elsa Martha Johnson)!
Happy Lucia Day! May we all represent light in the darkness today.