(This is the second of four posts on “Magical Giftbringers of Yule.” Last week’s was Rozhanitsa.)
Well, you all know by now how much my community and I love St. Lucia, aka the Lucy Bride, the Lussibruden, Lucia Queen. Her feast day is next Monday, December 13th. We’re in a busy tizzy over here, preparing for our annual Lucia Party this coming Saturday. We’re cleaning, doing laundry, decorating, and cooking up a storm. Can’t wait for (once again) the party of year.
The centerpiece of the party is St Lucia’s arrival. She wears a crown of candles and passes out the lussekatter (rolls formed in the shape of the rune Gefjon, “gift”), providing sustenance for our bodies and our souls. I wrote the lines below for Her to speak in a ritual, but in practice, our Lucia Brides have always been silent. Yet the words are lovely . . .
Lo! on our threshold there,
White-clad, with flame-crown’d hair:
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
I hear you singing this refrain as I enter your homes on this dark night, bearing my gifts of light for your souls and bread for your bodies. Oh, hail! Do you know me? Even my name speaks of the Light. I am Lucia, that one whose visit heralds the return of the sun.
In elder times, you called me by other names. In ancient Rome, I was Juno Lucina, midwife to the newborn sun. In the northlands, I was Freya, she of the golden necklace, bride of the Vanir. I flew across the night sky in an amber chariot drawn by my beloved cats and entered your homes before dawn. My cats came along, though mysteriously changed into nourishing cakes! You knew me too as Frigga of the hearth and home, when I sat at my spinning wheel and spun threads of sunlight to brighten the morning sky.
They say of me: “Honor St. Lucy with great good cheer, and you shall have plenty for all of the year!” And it’s true! You do me honor when you gather in my name. I bring to you the gift of the gathering of friends and family, and the promise of longer days.
More than anything, I am the Lightbringer, who appears mysteriously out of the darkest night with hope and sustenance for all.
(This is an excerpt from my eBook, A Crown of Candles: How to Throw a Fabulous Lucia Party. The top photo was taken back in 2000 by Paul Bingman at a party at Heron House, our home on the island. Lucia was played that year by mermaid sister Elaine Nichols (who makes the Gaian Tarot bags). The lower photo was taken of our friend Betsy when she played the role of St. Lucia in a Winter Solstice ritual some years back. Photos from the 2010 Lucia Party an be found here.)