Like all saints, St. Lucy had a pretty despicable martyrdom process – you know, with the attempted rape, the forced blinding, the knife in the throat kind of stuff – but as the patron saint of eyesight, she makes for a good necklace for my mom, who is currently battling macular degeneration to a draw.
Likewise, the St. Lucy Day tradition is pretty awesome. Based no doubt on pagan celebrations to mark the days getting longer, up in Scandinavian countries (where the sun won’t actually rise this time of year) the Lucy holiday is more about the actual meaning of “lucy” (lux, or light) and they do it right. The eldest girl of a family would wear a crown of candles, and wake her parents up with saffron buns and coffee, and then go through the village doing more of the same.
Our Dramatic Daughter, who can turn a gathering of spoons into a Russian play of high-stakes entertainment, heard the story of St. Lucy Day and wasted no time throwing herself into the role. My sister-in-law Melissa found a Crown of Candles (powered by AA batteries!) at her thrift store in Iowa City and sent them to us. Now all that was needed was the recipe for saffron buns and parents that were told to be asleep:
Lucy and Laura kneaded dough all morning
She got it right down to the white dress with a red sash, and wore the crown for two days, mostly because it acted like a miner’s helmet and allowed her to see in the dark.
I don’t know how many of you have had saffron buns, but they are AWESOME. I didn’t know saffron was allowed in such things. If you think about it, this holiday was incredibly special, given the Scandinavians live 14,000 miles away from the nearest saffron flower and coffee bean. Both would have been mind-bogglingly scarce in Olde Sweden, which reminded me of my family’s tradition of the orange in your Christmas stocking.
Anyway, our Lucy is here to remind you that light will return! Only five more nights before the days get longer!