Saturday, 13 December 2008
Today is the feast day of Sankta Lucia (St. Lucy), the thinly Christianized version of the ancient Nordic Goddess of the Winter Solstice. She ensures that the sacred light returns to the world every year at the very zenith of darkness. Under the old Julian calendar, her feast day was actually held on the Winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year. But under the reformed Gregorian calendar which we use today, her sacred day got shifted backwards to December 13. On this day in Swedish culture, the oldest girl in each family embodies the Saint/Goddess and gets to wear the Lucia Crown of Light. Moving about the dark house at sunrise, she awakens her family with the blessing of light and the bounty of the Goddess (coffee and special buns).
So ends the longest night
With light that She's bringing,
She is the Queen of Light
Clad in her garment white,
Wearing Her Crown of Light --
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
The special saffron-raisin buns distributed by Sankta Lucia are yellow like the sun and are called "Lucia cats." So the following picture is appropriate, if perhaps a little too literal!