|St. Lucy by Francesco del Cossa|
National Gallery of Art
Saint Lucy’s name means “light” and she wanted to serve Jesus and bring His light into the world. However, her mom, who was not a Christian, wanted her to get married to a certain man. Some legends say that Lucy prayed God would cure her mother of a sickness she had for a long time, and when He did, her mother believed, too. But the man Lucy was supposed to marry got angry and turned her into the government for being a Christian. When the soldiers came to arrest her, they thought they’d just pick her up and carry her away, but God made her very, very heavy so they couldn’t.
Even though Lucy lived in Syracuse, the people of Sweden have adopted Saint Lucy – or Saint Lucia as they call her – for their own. Every year on December 13, girls dress up like Saint Lucy in white robes with a red sash and wear wreaths with white candles on their heads. Then they bring breakfast rolls and coffee to their families. Here are instructions for making a Saint Lucia crown out of paper. If you want to make traditional Swedish Saint Lucia buns, here’s the recipe. (It calls for saffron, which you should find at any grocery store, If you can’t you can substitute 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon of sweet paprika for every ¼ teaspoon of saffron.)