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St. Lucy's Feast Day: Celebrate with Lights and Sweets!

Dec 05, 2016 By Gretchen Filz

December 13th is the feast day of St. Lucy. St. Lucy was a virgin martyr during the earliest centuries of Christianity under its worst persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire, therefore making her one of the most glorious saints in heaven.

She is of such renown that she is one of the saints mentioned by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass, one of only seven female saints listed.

Lucia means “light,” a fitting name for a young woman who was known to visibly glow and radiate in her love for her spouse, Jesus Christ. Falling during the Advent season—and thus a long, dark winter—there are many beautiful traditions associating this saint with the meaning of her name, the story of her life, and her glorious position in heaven. Her feast day is celebrated with candles, torches, and even bonfires.

St. Lucy Feast Day

ST. LUCY'S DAY TRADITIONS

In some Catholic cultures (especially in Scandinavia) it's common to have a Mass procession on St. Lucy's feast day with young girls carrying candles, with the lead girl wearing a wreath of lights (which looks similar to an Advent wreath).

Tradition holds that St. Lucy would wear a wreath of candles on her head so she could see better, her arms full of supplies, as she served the poor Christians hiding from persecution in the dark underground catacombs.

St. Lucy's Day Procession

Many countries have special St. Lucy's day traditions, but perhaps the most well-known are the ones of Italian and Scandinavin origin.

According to this resource, in Sweden,

“The oldest daughter of a family will wake up before dawn on St. Lucy's Day and dress in a white gown for purity, often with a red sash as a sign of martyrdom. On her head she will wear a wreath of greenery and lit candles, and she is often accompanied by 'Star Boys,' her small brothers who are dressed in white gowns and cone-shaped hats that are decorated with gold stars, and carrying star-tipped wands. 'St. Lucy' will go around her house and wake up her family to serve them special St. Lucy Day foods” which were usually baked sweets.

One simple way to incorporate a St. Lucy's day sweet treat into your family is with St. Lucy's bread.  Read one family's fun and easy St. Lucy day tradition (perfect for young girls!) here and here.

St. Lucy Feast Day Treat Photo: showerofroses.blogspot.com

THE LIFE OF ST. LUCY

To celebrate her feast you can also read more about St. Lucy's fascinating and inspiring life from a detailed account written by one Catholic parish who enjoys her at their patron saint:

The story of St. Lucy is connected with a period of great political uncertainly and anxiety in the Roman Empire. It was an anxious time as the enemies of the Roman Empire attacked on all sides. After 400 years, the Roman Empire was declining under the constant onslaught of its enemies.

Diocletian (Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, 245-313) became the Emperor in 284 and set about trying to regain Rome’s former power and glory.  Diocletian would celebrate Rome’s last great military victory over its ancient enemy, the Persian Empire. Other victories came on the Germanic border but these victories would not bring peace to the Empire.

It was into this time of great anxiety that Lucy was born, in Syracuse, Sicily; into a rich and noble Roman family about the year 283. Her father, a patrician, died when she was five years old. That left her dependent upon her sickly mother Eutychia, who was of Greek descent. This is not surprising considering Syracuse was originally a Greek city and at one time the richest Greek city in the Greek Empire.

Lucy raised a devout Catholic, privately decided in her teenage years to consecrate her virginity to God, and devote her worldly goods to the service of the poor. However, Eutychia, not knowing of Lucy’s promise and suffering from a bleeding disorder feared for Lucy’s future. She arranged Lucy’s marriage to a young man of a wealthy pagan family. Lucy had to do something. Continue reading the Life of St. Lucy.

Saint Lucy Prayer

St. Lucy's feast day is associated with many wonderful Catholic traditions. Consider incorporating them into your family, or even into your parish, as a new way to celebrate saint feast days that fall during the Advent season.

If you celebrate a St. Lucy Day tradition in your family, please comment below and tell us about it!

In thy patience thou didst possess thy soul,

O Lucy, Spouse of Christ!

Thou didst despise what is of the world,

and now thou are resplendent among the choirs of angels;

with thy own blood thou didst conquer the enemy!

~Antiphon from the Divine Office for the feast of St. Lucy

St. Lucy's Feast Day: Celebrate with Lights and Sweets!

This article has been updated and was first posted in December 2012. Copyright (c) The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.

Comments

christine fogge says
Dec 31 2018 5:00PM
We too do the same for St Lucy, my mother-in-law always made Guccia and handed it out to us with a chocolate bar to melt in cereal, its their Italian tradition, my father-n-law lost his eye sight at 21 then regained it later, it was amazing. but I try to keep it going. We are now 74.
Patty Lilly says
Dec 13 2018 10:54PM
We always waited for December 13, the feast of Santa Lucia, to turn our outside lights on. Early in the morning, in the dark, the oldest daughter would put the wreath of candles (battery operated) on her head and wake her siblings. We then would get candles and process through the house, then outside, down the hill while singing "Santa Lucia". Daddy would magically switch on the lights then run down the hill to join us. Afterwards, we'd return to the house for hot cocoa, coffee and cinnamon rolls. A lovely tradition in the dark of Winter and Advent.
D Vincenzo says
Dec 13 2017 6:23PM
My Dad was Sicilian & Ma was Calabrese. Ea. Dec 13 she made GUCCIA............Yum
Will Johnson says
Dec 12 2017 10:38PM
Only question I have is why, in her icon pictured here, does she appear to be holding a bowl of soup with two eyes floating in it?
Hi Will, one of Lucy's tortures is that her eyes were gouged out. This is why she is often depicted with a tray holding her eyes. It is a martyrdom that gave witness to her particular glory, that of being the 'light' of God (we see physical light with our physical eyes, and we behold God with spiritual light and spiritual eyes). You can read the rest of her life story at the link included in the post!
John Mollica says
Dec 12 2017 10:00PM
Does Vince have a recipe for the guccia? My mother made this also but I can’t replicate it.
Kyla Kaminski says
Dec 10 2017 11:15PM
This is a really good site. Thank you for making this.
Kathy says
Dec 6 2017 8:37AM
A friend of mine is having a feast for st Lucy,

There grandson had cancer in his eye,

they invited us to come, do I bring something, I need suggestions

Thank you

Kathy L
Hi Kathy, as mentioned in this post, there is a tradition of making St. Lucy bread in honor of St. Lucy's feast day. Including in this post are two links where you can learn more.
Vince says
Nov 26 2017 5:15PM
Our family originates in Sicily. I am 3 rd generation American. The day before St Lucys day we buy shelled wheat and soak it overnight in water. Then the water is drained and the wheat is boiled in milk very slowly unil soft. This we call Guccia. On St Lucys day our family does not eat anything baked with yeast. Instead we heat the guccia and add chocolate shavings and some milk. Delicious. This is our tradition.
Nancy says
Oct 28 2017 2:58PM
Thanks Mary Beth,

Our priest asked the children in the PSR program to make packets of seeds to grow Christmas Wheat. We distribute the packets to parishioners who then cut some of the grass to lay in the manger on Christmas Eve. We are in our fifth year.

A beautiful Pot is placed in the entrance to church so people can watch the grass grow over the weeks before Christmas.

In the bulletin we place messages to remind all of how our acts of kindness prepare our hearts for Jesus; Coming.

Will share your words this year. Now we know a bit more about the custom!
Mary Beth says
Sep 29 2017 11:20AM
My father and mother were born in the U.S. but both sets of parents were originally from Yugoslavia and of Croatian descent. My Dad planted wheat in a large beautiful bowl on St. Lucy's Feast Day. He placed it on our Christmas table with candles placed among the wheat grasses. Then he would take a small piece of bread dipped in wine and snuff out the candle flame. This was a Croatian tradition he learned from his parents and we still practice today.
kathy says
Dec 13 2016 9:34PM
Please help my son's vision, St. Lucia.
Mardy says
Dec 13 2016 12:41PM
Today, in honor of the feast of St. Lucy, the middle school students of our school visited each grade level classrooms. A girl clothed in white garment with garland of flowers around her head is reading the life story of St. Lucy and they give sweets(cinnamon rolls) and hot chocolate to the children in the class.
laire says
Oct 30 2014 7:26PM
what is she well known for
Hi Laire, if you read this blog post and click on all the links, you will learn more about the life of St. Lucy.
St. Lucy's day is also a great day to turn on the Christmas lights... it somehow never seems right to turn them on before Advent has even started, but it can also be hard to wait all the way until Dec. 25th in this day and age, so we use the feast day of the patron saint of light....
Great idea! Love it.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at GetFed.com, she is also editor of the MorningOffering.com daily devotional email and author at GoodCatholic.com. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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