Saint Lucia, a young Syracusan, brought food to the Christians hidden in the catacombs of Syracuse with a crown of light in order to have their hands free for gifts. From Sant’Agata he goes to Catania to ask for pardon for his sick mother. Tradition has it that the Saint spoke to her and her mother was healed. She is persecuted by her betrothed because she does not want to marry him and martyred for her faith.
His relics are taken and brought to Constantinople by Giorgio Maniace together with those of S. Agata and from there to Venice and half of Europe.
In Sicily, the Saint is also celebrated to commemorate the end of a long famine when ships full of wheat arrived on the island on 13 December.
The festival of light is celebrated in Scandinavia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and a large part of Northern Italy.
THE FEAST OF SANTA LUCIA IN SIRACURA
If in Milan there is Sant’Ambrogio, in Syracuse Santa Lucia, patron saint of the city, is celebrated.
The celebrations last a week and are characterized by the solemn procession during which a 4-meter-high statue is carried that encloses a golden case in which the fragments of the ribs of the Saint are kept.
The route winds from the cathedral on the island of Ortigia to the Basilica of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro (which this year will be elevated to a sanctuary for the occasion) where the relics will remain on display for a week before returning to the Cathedral, brought in shoulder from the Green Berets of the brotherhood of carpenters.
Tradition has it that on the day of the eve of the feast, fires are lit for the city, to remember that the Saint is the protector of sight and, consequently, of light. On 20 December, the city will host a girl from Sweden with her head surrounded by a crown of candles and the traditional Siracura-Sweden twinning will be celebrated.
During all the days of the festival, tradition has it that pasta and bread are not consumed, but vegetables, legumes, the famous Sicilian arancine with rice and a decidedly typical dish called doghouse based on boiled wheat and legumes.
SANTA LUCIA IN THE SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES
It became a national holiday around 1920, Santa Lucia is one of the most heartfelt holidays in Northern Europe, particularly in Sweden. Tradition has it that on the night between 12 and 13 December, the youngest of the house gets up very early in the morning and, after wearing a white tunic with a red sash around her waist and a crown of green leaves and 7 candles, go and wake up the other members of the family still asleep by serving them coffee, milk and ginger or pepper biscuits.
During the day, processions are then organized along the streets and squares. For the occasion, the girls wear the traditional costume and the boys close the procession dressed as elves. The atmosphere is typical of Christmas, with carols that echo in the air and lighted candles that light up the dark night.
Viewers are offered ginger biscuits, saffron sandwiches (I Lussekatter) and the glogg, a hot wine prepared with almonds and raisins.