Monday, December 13, 2010

St. Lucy's Day

Were you awakened this morning by a girl with candles in her hair?   If so, you may have been enjoying the celebration of St. Lucy's Day, conventionally the beginning of the Christmas season.
At the first cock-crow, between 1 and 4 a.m., the prettiest girl in the house used to go among the sleeping folk, dressed in a white robe, a red sash, and a wire crown covered with whortleberry-twigs and having nine lighted candles fastened in it. She awakened the sleepers and regaled them with a sweet drink or with coffee ...
 So  Clement A. Miles, Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan (T. Fisher Unwin, 1912), recorded in Hymns and Carols of Christmas channeled through the aptly named Making LightApparently under the old calendar, December 13 was the shortest day of the year, but what is this with the first cock-crow between 1 and 4 a.m.?  Wouldn't this be New Zealand, or July?

I recall that I was so fêted once, back in the Pleistocene. I did my best to accept it with the generosity and good grace that it deserved although I admit that fussbudget I spent the whole time fearing the poor girl's hair would catch fire.  Won't be happening around here, though, we are plumb out of whortleberries.

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