Today is 12/12/2023 and it’s a special day for many parents, grandparents and children.
It’s Saint Lucy, they say – the longest night.
Yes, we are spreading the cultural heritage of the Calabria region but at this moment many children from the South are living in the North, like many migrants and other multicultural people traveling around the world for work or for other reasons.
This website “Educated traveler” offers a very well described article about the origin of Saint Lucy who was a young girl of Siracusa, the beautiful city in Sicily, South of Italy.
There’s also a very long bibliography at the end.
But what today is the magic of Saint Lucy in the – so called “longest night” – are sweets and toys for children who behave good and wrote the cutest letter to the Saint the previous days making the list of their wishes. The nights before, starting from 8/12, the “Immacolata” night, parents start to ring the bell. While mothers stay at home, before going to sleep with children, fathers or grandfathers hide themselves in the garden, or out of the window and ring the bell in the darkness…farmers can do a real night show if they have an old wagon with horses or donkeys.
The night on 12/12 is even more special and in some villages the municipalities create an event in the main square and the “Saint” comes from far, to take the letters of all children. She’s dressed in a white long dress, her face is hidden and mysterious. Her wagon is colorful and with lights, making noises and calling attention like a magic in the dark and cold night of December. It’s in fact terribly cold in the North of Italy.
The Saint tries to satisfy all wishes of all children. The same children are taught to be generous, think about others and don’t desire just toys, especially those which are just plastic and violent games, but share with others their old toys and be aware that there are other children in the world without anything.
The magic of Saint Lucy is not disappearing through the years. The North and South of Italy met on this day. Children are excited and happy whatever happens and if we help this tradition to survive we will contribute to save an important cultural heritage which is for everyone, in Italy, in Europe and in the world.
Author: Erika Gerardini – JUMP Team
In the picture 1
Santa Lucia by renaissance artist Francesco del Cossa (1472) – note the unusual branch in Lucy’s left hand