My Christmas childhood memory, Saint Lucia’s day

13 Dec

I don’t give a damn about Santa.

For me Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Babbo Natale, however you want to call him, never existed, I did not believe in him. I have never written a letter to him.

For me, Christmas was all about Saint Lucia, and it always will. To explain to you what I mean I add a description of Saint Lucia’s day (thanks Wikipedia):

Saint Lucia’s Day is the Church feast day dedicated to St. Lucy and is observed on the 13th of December. Its modern day celebration is generally associated with Sweden and Norway but is also observed in Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Bosnia, Bavaria, Croatia, Slovakia and St. Lucia, West Indies In the United States it is celebrated with cookies on the mantel in states for a large number of people of Scandinavian ancestry, often centred around church events.

In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each.

St. Lucia is the patron saint of the city of Syracuse (Sicily), where she was born. Celebrations take place on the 13th of December and in May. St. Lucy is also popular among children in some regions of North-Eastern Italy, namely Trentino, East Lombardy (Bergamo, my home town), parts of Veneto, parts of Emilia-Romagna and all of Friuli, where she brings gifts to good children and coal to bad ones the night between December 12 and 13.

She arrives in the company of a donkey and her escort, Castaldo. Children are asked to leave some coffee for Lucia, some flour for the donkey and bread for Castaldo. They must not watch Santa Lucia delivering these gifts, or she will throw ashes in their eyes, temporarily blinding them.

I have always written letters to Saint Lucia, I put the letter on the basket in the Church in Bergamo in front of her statue for ages, and the night between the 12th and 13th December it has always been magical.

I will always remember when around 7pm I was going to my grandmother house to find some presents in her living room, going to my other grandmother’s house and find presents for me and my cousins on the table in my grandmother’s tailoring room…and after that going to my great aunt’s house with my cousin to find more presents on the table in the kitchen, I still remember how excited I was to go to sleep that night, still remember my mum telling me “Sleep tight and please do not wake up or Saint Lucia won’t come here” – I still remember putting a bowl with water and some bread next to the Christmas tree for Saint Lucia’s donkey…I still remember the 13th December morning getting up, run to my parents and listen to my mum saying: “Did she come? I think she did, I heard something during the night”… I can still see myself running in the living room and find more presents and sweets…and now I think tears are going down on my cheeks, tears of joy, remembering such a good time in my childhood.

I still believe in you, Saint Lucia.


2 Responses to “My Christmas childhood memory, Saint Lucia’s day”

  1. GIOVANNA 13/12/2011 at 8:06 PM #

    …è vero, da bambina la notte di Santa Lucia era la più emozionante dell’anno..però non sapevo che era una tradizione anche nei paesi scandinavi, pensavo fosse una tradizione soltanto di qualche paese del nord italia…Altro che Babbo Natale, Santa Lucia per sempre… 😉

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