Raven Frees The Light

Odin

An illustration from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript depicting Huginn and Muninn sitting on the shoulders of Odin.

Soul Food Lucia Choir

choir

The thirteenth of December is Saint Lucia day and everything stops in the rookery for Saint Lucia celebrations. This is the time to bear light and give thanks for a year engaging in such a talented choir..

Tracing Saint Lucia

The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. Thus the name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions.

In the old almanac, Lucia Night was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.

The last person to rise that morning was nicknamed ‘Lusse the Louse’ and often given a playful beating round the legs with birch twigs. The slaughtering and threshing were supposed to be over by Lucia and the sheds to be filled with food in preparation for Christmas. In agrarian Sweden, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 20th century, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns (lussekatter) dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.
by Agneta Lilja, Södertörn University College

Embracing the Light

candle


When I was a traveller child in Ireland, a Christmas tradition that made a great impression on me was the candle in the window - this was lit on Christmas Eve and was meant to symbolise a welcome for the Holy Family - but in a land where so many families had been torn apart by post famine migration, and where traveller families were often oceans apart at Christmas, it was also a touching act of faith for those who would not be part of the family circle that year - that the lighting of the candle would help them find their way home.

I still light a candle in the window every Christmas Eve, to welcome the wayfarer and to call the lost ones home. Christmas is a time of reunion and as the song says - `someday soon we all will be together."
Gail Kavanagh

Candle Making

On Saint Lucia Day Ravens will keep the flame alight. Small flames will appear around the globe. For twenty four hours a flame will be alight somewhere around the world.

Take the time to make your own candles for Saint Lucia Day.

The Rookery 2008 - Day 13

WOW! It's hard to digest the vast amount of terrific talent that you, Heather, have brought together in this year's calendar. The previous years were great, but this one is dynamic, a showcase.  I often wonder how it is that I was so fortunate to be invited to virtually live with you all. It's a soul expanding, heart warming experience.

Jane, Anita Marie, and Jill, and all the others whom I have commented on earlier and in other places. Your work is uplifting. It is something we all need to get our mind off everyday life's bad times.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
Vi Jones

St Lucia Festival

Saint Lucia

Winter's Queen
by Lori Gloyd 2008

Bearer of Light

The night goes with weighty step round yard and (stove i.e. house, hearth?) round earth. The sun's departure leaves the woods brooding. There in our dark house, appears with lighted candles Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The night goes great and mute. Now one hears its wings in every silent room murmuring as if from wings. Look at our threshold. There she stands white-clad with lights in her hair Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia

The darkness shall soon depart from the earth's valleys thus she speaks a wonderful word to us. The day shall rise anew from the rosy sky. Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

 

St. Lucia's feast day commemorates the day of her martyrdom, December 13th , which also was the shortest day of the year - Winter Solstice under the old Gregorian calendar. Because her name means "light," many of the ancient light and fire customs of the Yuletide became associated with her day.
from the Legends Of Lucy Syracuse

A favorite Scandianian holiday tradition is tied to the beautiful white clad figure of Lucia, the “bearer of light,” who illuminates the darkness of winter on the morning of December 13th. Very early, before dawn, when the world is still blanketed in darkness, Lucia appears at each bedside, dressed in a white gown with a red sash, wearing a crown of candles on her head, she awakens each member of the family with light saying: “Saint Lucia brings you light and bids you come to breakfast.” In her hands she carries a tray of coffee, sweet rolls and cookies.

Scandinavia is sometimes called “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” because at the point of the Summer Solstice the sun never sets; literally still shining at midnight, dissolved in a blue haze which fills the sky like gentle mist. At the opposite Solstice point; during the depth of winter, the darkness is total and for many days the sun does not rise at all. Here the celebration of Yule (or Jül) was born; huge fires were lit; to stave of the darkness; to help bring back the sun. Great Yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends.

This dark, cold time of the year is a paradox; both the most depressing and most hopeful of times. It is the period when, in early history, people sometimes actually feared that the light might not return. In Northern Hemisphere cultures, this period of cold and darkness was also actually the most dangerous time of the year; there was always the very real possibility that food and fuel might run out with no means left for survival, as well as the always present potential that the weather itself could bring destruction.

In the Northern Hemisphere the earth is in an orbit where the sunlight is at it’s weakest in December; it is during this time of darkness that people have traditionally turned inward to contemplate the meaning and the vulnerability of life. In the long Arctic night, hearts have always looked forward with longing toward the return of the light. Though the nights are the longest, and the darkness is at its deepest in December; it is at this point; at the point of Solstice, Yule or Sun Return; that everything shifts. The circling journey is no longer a descent into darkness, but a rise toward the reawakening of the light. It is not surprising that the people Scandinavia of would be fascinated by and adopt as their own, a saint who came bearing hope and light.

There are many legends associated with Lucia starting in fourth century Sicily. A young woman gave her dowry away to the poor and confessed herself a Christian. For this she was accused of witchcraft and put to death. Another legend tells of a famine in medieval days when Saint Lucia, as a glowing figure dressed in white, came across a lake in the province of Värmland, Sweden. She brought gifts of food to feed the starving people.

source: St Lucia Festival Advent Calendar 2003

St Lucia Blogs

One of the joys about blogging is that you can have as many blogs as you like. Britt Arnhild's blog gives a very authentic perspective of Saint Lucia celebrations and is filled with lots of activities that will get you right in to the festive mood.