Thursday, December 13, 2012

St. Lucia for the First Time


For the past few years I have wanted to celebrate the feast of St. Lucia, an early Church martyr. Last year we read the book, Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde, which is a very nice book. It explains the story of St. Lucia well, and easily shares a popular way in which families celebrate this feast day - with the oldest girl dressed in white with a red sash and a candle wreath upon her head as she carries a sweet bread for breakfast to others in her household. Her brothers tag along in white gowns and star hats, carrying star staffs, and her younger sisters attend her in white gowns and tinsel halos. The family sings a song and enjoys their breakfast before sharing it, along with song and company to neighbors. This tradition was born in Sweden and has spread throughout the world since then. I think it is a beautiful tradition and one I hope to try out at least one year once Miss Bear is just a bit older and Miss Z can join in the fun.

However, here I was this morning without any form of sweet bread made (the days really are consuming me) - and I had no desire to hit the stores to buy gluten-free cinnamon rolls at $8 for four rolls. Yet, I also did not want to pass up this feast day again.

So... I found an extremely simple - and meaningful! - way to bring more to this feast day. Even better, the tradition's roots point back to the country of Hungary, among a few other European countries, which is the birthplace of my mother-in-law's parents.

The Planting of the Wheat

It is tradition to plant wheat in a shallow dish on the Feast of St. Lucia for a variety of reasons:
  • There will be new green shoots come Christmas, reminding us of new life, of Jesus born in Bethlehem.
  • Wheat reminds us that Jesus is the bread of life.
  • The name Bethlehem itself means house of bread.
  • We might also remember the parables of Jesus where He uses wheat as starring role. One such verse:
"Lord, my soul is the flour into which I invite You to knead Your grace. As I feel punched and beaten and slapped around by life, let me realize that You are but kneading me into someone new and good." Matthew 13:33 
  • And of course, wheat reminds us of the Eucharist itself.
Well, considering I had no wheat berries in the house or any reason to, as we are a (mostly) gluten-free household due to celiac disease, I brought out our cat grass to grow in a little jam jar. The kids went out and filled the jar with driveway stones and dirt. (By the way, digging up the dirt would have been much easier had the ground not been frozen! ;))


Once inside (and de-thawed), we added the seed, covered with soil, and watered it a bit. As long as we keep it moist - not drenched - there should be some fresh sprouts come Christmas. Currently, our jar is sitting near the nativity, and come Christmas morning a candle can burn near it to remind us of the Light of Christ. The sprouts can also be cut and used as a soft bed for baby Jesus. Eventually I plan on gifting the grass to the cat... assuming of course he does not find it first!

For more on this tradition and other traditions for the Feast of St. Lucia, check out Penitents.org, where you can also purchase a wheat kit.

See Miss Bear peeking out? And a line of dirty boots by the broom. ;)

To wrap up our day, my husband and the kids put up a few outside lights. Over the past few years, I have been tweaking how we decorate and prepare the house physically for Christmas, and do my best to fit it into our liturgical year, and to be more intentional in how we decorate. It is a work in progress, but putting up our outdoor lights today, on the Feast of St. Lucia seemed fitting as she is associated with light - from lighting up the darkest day of the year to the candles on her head to her name, which means "light." Every year it makes me so happy to see how a simple strand of light can bring such a glow and sense of warmth.

One last thing that I thought of doing today, but never found time for, was having the kids make their gifts for their grandparents and dad. This year we choose to make picture candles. I bought ridiculously expensive candles (Yankee candles) - so much $$ but they smell so good and burn so nicely. They are jar candles, and once I print pictures of the kids off, they can attach them to the outside using a glue wash (glue watered down). Then, every time the candle is lit, they will be reminded of the kids. I thought it would be a nice touch for today to tie it in with the light theme, but never mind, we'll get around to it.

Prayer to St. Lucia

Saint Lucia, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and sin.

By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.

Saint Lucia, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.

**For the fun of it, I also linked up with other bloggers who celebrated this feast day at Catholic Cuisine. Check out what they did!**

1 comment:

  1. I just heard of that plant-a-seed tradition for the first time this year, and I love it. We might do that next year.

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