What’s so special about December 13th?
December 13th is the Celebration of Santa Lucia.
I’ll tell you more about how Italian people celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day
The tradition says that Lucy visits our houses the night before December 13th, riding her donkey, and leaving gifts for good and obedient children. The week before, children send a letter to Lucia with the help of their parents: they write a sort of wish list and try to assure Lucia they have been good during the year.
When December 12th comes, homes are prepared as families want to welcome Lucy in the best way possible. So, generally in the living room, children prepare a corner with water and food to refresh Lucia during her long travel in the cold night. Offerings to Lucia generally consist of biscuits, oranges, coffee and cakes. Her donkey is not forgotten, of course! There is also a bucket of water for it and some hay. Children have to go to bed early. They know that, if Lucia comes when they are still awake, she goes away without leaving her gifts.
The following morning after they wake up, the children of the house run to see their gifts and what Lucia and the donkey have eaten of the food and drink that they left for them the night before.
It’s a great moment! I’ll never forget how magical this feast was for me, when I was a child: I was so excited for thr gifts, the day after at school we talked about it and we used to eat lots of chocolate.
Adults also often get into the spirit of the celebration and give candy or chocolate as a gift to other adults (friends or relatives) during this time.
Around December 13th in different cities you can find outdoor markets selling candies and handmade products to buy as gifts. Also different shops decorate their shop windows for this magical day. For example, check Clo’et design shop. She will give a bunch of hay (“mazzolino” in Italian) to children, blue for boys and pink for girls. According to the tradition the “mazzolino” is used to put next to the letter for Lucia’s donkey.
Who really is Santa Lucia?
St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.
Photo Credits: “La Vera Storia di Santa Lucia” by Anna Maria Perini.
This beautiful book is a read-a-loud perfect for children. Anna Maria Perini and the illustrator Daniela Sciascia have truly captured the spirit of “living” the Lucia tradition each year.
Hope you liked the post and see you to the next one!
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