Saint Lucia's Day, or Saint Lucy's day is a Winter Solstice festival held December 13th in honor of Saint Lucia, a martyr who survived her sentence of death by fire, though she later fell to the sword. Saint Lucia is the patron saint of vision and those who are blind and she is a popular saint among fortune tellers and seers.

Celebrating Saint Lucy's Day

Saint Lucia's Day once coincided with the Winter Solstice though it is celebrated several days before on December 13th. The festival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world but is most popular in Italy and Scandinavia.

In Scandinavian countries it is said that to celebrate Saint Lucy's Day will help one survive winter well and will bring light to your long nights. The festival is led by a young girl wearing a white dress and a red sash and a crown of lit candles carrying palm leaves. She leads a procession of other girls and boys dressed similarly but without the crown carrying candles or platters of rolls and cookies. Traditional songs are sung.

In Sweden and the Swedish areas of Finland, the oldest daughter wakes early, dons the white robe, red sash and crown of candles and serves coffee and saffron St Lucia buns (Lussekatt) and wakes the family with singing. This marks the start of the holiday season.

In Italy, Saint Lucia is credited with ending a famine when ships loaded with grain entered the port of Palermo on her feast day and so this day people eat whole grains in remembrance. One dish is called cuccia, a sweet treat made of boiled wheat berries sweetened with sugar and honey and sometimes enriched with ricotta cheese or nuts. Wheat berries are also eaten in a savory stew with beans on Saint Lucia's Day.

In some parts of Italy, Saint Lucia is a bringer of gifts for children, traveling from house to house on a donkey with her escort. Children leave out coffee for Lucia, wine for her escort and a carrot for the donkey on the night before Saint Lucia's feast day and take care not to peek lest she throw ashes in their eyes and blind them!


In Norway, the longest night of the year was historically Lussinatten. This was a magical night when no work was to be done. Animals could speak on this night and it was important to give them extra feed and then stay out of their way. An enchantress called Lussi wandered in the darkness prepared to punish anyone she caught doing any work. This particular custom was largely abandoned by the 20th century and a modern observation of Saint Lucia's day was imported by mid-century, though it is celebrated there mostly as a secular holiday.

Who Was Saint Lucia?

Lucia of Syracuse was born in 283C.E. and died in 304 C.E. According to the lore, Saint Lucia was born to a wealthy Roman father and his Greek wife. Her father died when she was very young and her mother suffered from a bleeding disorder so she betrothed her to a young man from a wealthy family. But Lucia converted to Christianity, made a vow of celibacy and distributed her dowry among the poor. Then she took her mother on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Agatha at Catania to pray for a cure for her bleeding disorder. This was successful and Lucia convinced her mother to distribute her wealth among the poor as well.

News of their generosity spread quickly and got back to Lucia's betrothed and he complained to the governor of Syracuse who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to an image of the Emperor. She refused and he ordered her sold to a brothel but the guards who came to collect her could not move her, so they hitched a team of oxen to her and still could not move her. Then the guards brought bundles of wood and stacked them around her and set them alight but she did not burn. Finally, they put her to the sword. At some point,either her eyes were gouged out or she gouged out her own eyes to send to her suitor who had earlier complimented her on their appearance. It is said that after she was slain and taken for burial, it was found that her eyes had regenerated.

Saint Lucia is the patron saint of Syracuse and of the blind and the protector of sight.

Symbols Saint Lucy

The name Lucia comes from the Latin lux meaning "light". Candles are often used to represent her. Her eyes are particularly important symbols of Saint Lucy and she is occasionally represented by a chalice or dish with a pair of eyes on it. She is often depicted holding her eyes on a dish.

Saint Lucy and Magick

Saint Lucia may be called upon to aid in shining light on difficult or cloudy subjects, to aid in seeing a situation clearly or to bring lucidity to a situation and also for help in bringing healing to the eyes.

As the traditions associated with her feast day attest, she may also be called upon to bring comfort during the darkest days of winter, both literal and metaphorical.

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