Augustana’s annual celebration of our Swedish origins, our commemoration of Sankta Lucia (Saint Lucy) is coming up on Sunday December 15th at the 10:45 am service. We’ll celebrate with a potluck afterwards. Please look for the sign-up sheets in the narthex, for volunteers for the pageant and for the potluck.
Last year, Lise Sveen wrote a great article on why we mark Sankta Lucia’s Festival Day at Augustana and its worth re-visiting:
December 13th is the feast day of Sankta Lucia, commemorating Lucia of Syracuse. She was martyred in 304 by Diocletian. Lucia and her mother were nobles. Lucia was engaged to be married to a pagan. Her mother had had a long and serious illness, and Lucia prayed at the tomb of the martyr Agatha. Her mother recovered and Lucia gave her dowry to the poor. Her suitor denounced her to the local prefect. When Lucia refused to renounce Christianity, she was condemned to be burned. Lucia, whose name can mean “light” or “lucid,” is the patron saint of the blind.
In Sweden the feast day coincided with the winter solstice before the calendar was reformed, so Lucia eve was the longest night of the year. It was associated with revels and fantastic spooky things like farm animals talking in the dark. The custom of processions featuring young women as Lucia became popular after a Stockholm newspaper decided to crown a Lucia queen in 1927.
Now on Sankta Lucia day the eldest daughter wakes before dawn, prepares coffee, cookies, and sweet Lucia buns, and serves her parents in bed, with the help of her siblings. She wears a white robe, with a red sash symbolizing martyrdom, and a crown of candles. As with Advent, candles signify light overcoming darkness.
At Augustana we celebrate Sankta Lucia with music, including the well-known Lucia song (based on a Neapolitan boat song), with a procession of star boys and younger girls, and Lucia and her court, and with an amazing coffee hour spread. On this day we lift up our young people, reflect on the Swedish roots of our congregation, and pray for the safety of Christians threatened because of their beliefs.