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 Most of you know the story of "Santa Lucia", but those of you who haven't heard it before... and travelers who are visiting in Sweden on Decemer 13th... must think it very strange that, in a land far from her own, a young Roman girl is honored in the hearts and thoughts of a people she could never have known.  In her spirit, and because of her steadfast courage, each year the Swedish people remember her on that day.  In the year 304 A.D., Lucia was a wealthy young maiden who was promised in Marriage to a high Roman official. She had heard the teachings of Christianity and she had embraced them with all of her heart and soul, so much so that she gave away her riches that would have been her wedding dowery. This so angered her intended husband that He had her arrested because supporting the Christian religion was illegal at that time.  The judgement against her was that she was given a choice...  ·         she must give up her faith...  ·         she must renouce Christ...  or she would be tortured to death! ... Well, she refused the choice that would have saved her life.  On what we now call December 13th, she was bound to a column and they sharpened the wooden stakes with which they stabbed the sight from her eyes! The blood streamed down her cheeks and splahed her white robe with crimson streaks. Then, a fire was lighted at her feet.  Through her pain and her fear, she pryes and cried out to the Lord.  And then... a wonderous thing happened: a glorious light shimmered and gleamed around her head as Heaven marked her sacrifice and claimed her spirit! Long after her death, when the Vikings had accepted the teachings of Christ, they learned of Santa Lucia... and because they honored true courage, they adopted her for their own... and on each December 13th, they remembered her.  Today, only their Swedish descendents still set aside this day in traditional ceremonies.  Early in the dark of morning... dressed in a flowing white gown, the eldest daughter awakens the family to serve them in their beds hot, rich coffee and "Loos-A-Caw-Kuh", fragrant with saffron.  On her head she wears a crown of lingonberry leaves, glowing with the lighted candles that symbolize the halo of glory that touched Santa Lucia. Girding her white gown at the waist is a red sash that reminds us of the wounds she suffered for her faith.  And as the glow from her crown brings light to each of the rooms that she visits, she sings an old Italian melody... "Santa Lucia".And so I say to all of you here... open your hearts to faith, to trust and to the spirit of good will that lies within the heart of every single one! (***Story courtesy of Victor Rittenbrand, December 15, 1996)© 1996-2013 The Scandinavian Club of Hawaii.


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