Santa Lucia

We interrupt this Advent to remind you that today is the feast day of St Lucy (Santa Lucia in Italian - remember the song?).

Lucy was a 2nd century martyr, probably killed in the Diocletian persecution. Not much is truly known about her, although a number of traditions have sprung up around her, including that she plucked out her own eyes in defiance of her fiancĂ© who she was trying to throw over in an effort to remain a virgin dedicated to Christ.  The fiancĂ© was not too happy about Lucy's decision (especially the part where she was giving away her dowry to the poor in Syracuse, where she lived) and he denounced her as a Christian to the authorities.  The part about the eyes is probably not true (the guy claimed it was what he liked best about her) but nonetheless sometimes she is portrayed holding a platter with two eyes on it.

More likely you have seen depictions of a young girl in a white dress wearing a crown of candles on her head.  The Northern Europeans celebrate Lucy as the bringer of light (it is dark this time of year after all), and of course Lucy means light. The eldest daughter dresses up as Lucy on this day and wears a wreath of candles at night.  I recall the American Girl doll who is dressed this way.

Anyway, it will be a good night for some candles (it will be dark here in Virginia by 5:00). Happy St Lucy's Day!


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