Monday, December 13, 2004

Feast of St. Lucy

"Then you shall be radiant at what you see."
As feasts go, a strange and wonderful day, this day. As John Donne wrote:

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;

The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk;...

(from A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day)

Lucy is patron saint of disorders of eyes (having lost her eyes prior to her death at the hands of Diocletian) and of "light", if you will, since her feast day falls on the winter solstice in the old Julian calendar -- the harbinger for the lengthening of days -- and her name derives from lux -- light.

As a consequence, this day, the Swede's are as apt to wear lit candles on their heads as drive Saab's or Volvo's, and the Sicilians are likely to eat "Santa Lucia's eyes" and cuccia.

In our own country, sitcoms generally frame our celebrations and understanding of ourselves -- no less true for Lucy -- mother of all sitcoms. Some would blame Fred and Ethel for this turn of events -- I think that's unfair.

In any case, for our own celebrations, we might do better to raise a mug of steamed coffee, share spherical biscotti, and sing a few stanzas of "Santa Lucia".

Skip the "Babalu".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The quote is from Isaiah 60:5.

12/13/2004 10:32:00 PM  

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