Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Feast Day of Santa Lucia

Today is the day that Scandinavian countries celebrate Santa Lucia day, or St. Lucy's day. There will be special breads and hot coffee and perhaps a candle wreath for the head.

I first heard about Santa Lucia Day at our Lutheran church in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was held on a Sunday evening in Advent back in the late 70's.

As the tallest blonde girl, I was selected to lead the Santa Lucia day procession when I was in my early teen years. The grown ups placed a wreath with candles on my head and lit the candles. The younger children carried their candles. I walked up the church aisle and held my head very still. I still remember the exhilarating feeling of having burning candles near my hair. I remember hot wax dripping onto my shoulders--I was wearing clothes and a white robe over them, so it didn't hurt.

It felt both pagan and sacred, that darkened church, our glowing candles. I remember nothing about the service that followed.

A year or two later, Bon Appetit ran a cover story on holiday breads, and Santa Lucia bread was the first one that I tried. What a treat. For years, I told myself that baking holiday breads was a healthy alternative to baking Christmas cookies--but then I took a long, hard look at the butterfat content of each, and decided that I was likely wrong.

If you'd like to try your hand at baking bread today, see this post on my creativity blog.  It will have links to get you to a photo essay too. 

And this bread is wonderful at any time of the year.  So even if you don't have time to bake today, you can prepare for a special Christmas morning treat. Or midsummer treat for that matter.

I love our various festivals to get us through the dark of winter. When I lived in colder, darker places, I wished that the early church fathers had put Christmas further into winter, when I needed a break. Christmas in February makes more sense to me, even though I understand how Christmas ended up near the Winter Solstice.

So, happy Santa Lucia day! Have some special bread, drink a bracing hot beverage, and light the candles against the darkness.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I just wrote a post wherein I invite you to join me for a virtual cup of coffee or glass of wine and talk about hands-on worship...