21 December 2009

Sightless in Syracuse

Okay, 13 December was St. Lucy’s Day, and I intended to have something up about that, though as it is another one of the holidays in the Christmas season that I’ve never celebrated, I don’t really know anything about it. It’s an odd holiday, much beloved in Sweden, that involves a girl wearing a crown of lit candles while serving an early breakfast.

The story of St. Lucy is one of those horrific legends only a medieval Christian could love. The short version is that she had a boyfriend who admired her beautiful eyes, and so in a fit of some sort of madness she gouged them out and sent them to him as a present. The longer version involves her being arrested as a Christian and then executed after a variety of difficulties—the guards couldn’t move her from her cell, and then when they decided to burn her alive the fire wouldn’t consume her, for whatever reason. God was presumably behind these miracles, but somehow he was unable to keep a guard from cutting her throat with his sword.

Note that the name Lucia means light, so we seem to be again in Festival of Lights country, like Hanukkah and Yule and all the rest of the winter frolics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sic transit Lucia mundi-- well, actually Sunday this year. Pagan Book of Days says of December 13: "St. Lucy's Day, or Little Yule, is a festival of lights." It's the beginning of the Runic half-month Jara, and Jara "signifies the completion of natural cycles, such as fruition, and has a more transcendent meaning of mystic marriage between the earth and cosmos" (p. 137). So both christians and pagans get in on this one, which should make for a fine, lively festival. rfh

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