The Famine of 1646

In the days leading up to the Feast of Santa Lucia, December 13, many Sicilians refrain from eating pasta and only eat un-ground wheat grain, or “farro,” that is prepared as a dish called cuccìa. Devotees observe this ritual to remember the severe famine that struck Siracusa and Palermo in 1646. During that time of…

A Dagger

Yes, that is a dagger in her neck! When the Christian maiden Lucia refused to participate in the activities of the Roman temple dedicated to sacred prostitution to which she was condemned, the governor of Siracusa, Paschasius, sent soldiers to remove her, however she was immovable! They brought in oxen to drag her away, yet…

The Young Maiden Lucia

At the dawn of the 4th century, practicing Christianity in the Roman-ruled city of Siracusa was illegal. Already though, inspired by nearby Catania’s Patron Saint, Sant’Agata, who lived just a few decades before (from 231 AD – 251 AD), the young and beautiful Lucia devoted herself to Christianity. In fact, she was known to enter…

Eyes and A Dagger

Santa Lucia is often identified with eyes on a plate, a dagger, flames or a torch, and a palm. This image is from the Duomo in Siracusa. Eyes on a plate to remind us that the beautiful maiden’s eyes were either gouged out by the Roman soldiers or she did it herself to make herself…

A Faithful Maiden

Under the ancient Roman calendar, December 13 was the shortest day of the year: the winter solstice. Under our modern Gregorian calendar, the solstice in 2017 falls on December 21. In Sicily, December 13 is still recognized as a celebration of light, when they celebrate the Feast of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of the…

Light Up the Dark

Please mark your calendar to come celebrate our shared light in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2PM at Cacio e Vino, where we’ll have a full luncheon with traditional Sicilian dishes for Santa Lucia, a presentation about the Patroness of Siracusa, and a short live concert of traditional Sicilian songs. Reservation and…

The Rough Blue Sea 

The sea at Ortigia, Siracusa today was rough from storms that passed overnight. Check out the big waves on the Ionian Sea! And wow, what color! It was a beautiful spring day, warm (about 65F/21C) at 1pm, then brisk (55F/15C) this evening.  I visited some fantastic hotels (inspecting them,  and importantly, *smelling* them for our…

Cookie of the Beholder 

Of course we know that for la Festa di Santa Lucia Sicilians eat Cuccìa (pictured top) and arancine (rice balls), purposefully avoiding wheat grain in recognition of the severe famine of 1624 that the patron saint of wheat, eyes, sight, and light helped resolve once she heard her devotees’ prayers. But what I learned from my friend…

Santa Lucia: They Called, She Responded 

The priceless silver statue of Santa Lucia (in the photograph pictured) will be processed through the streets of Ortigia on December 13, her feast day. Devotees wearing green caps and singing “Viva Santa Lucia” in a call-and-response fashion, will carry her sacred relics. This age-old devotion is rooted in the ancient Greek Persephone/Kore and Demeter myth, which…

Viva Santa Lucia!

Viva Santa Lucia! Today is the Feast of Santa Lucia. Devotees wearing green caps process her priceless silver statue and sacred relics through the streets of Oritgia, Sicily. Throughout the march, faithful sing a call-and-response in reverence to their patroness: Viva Santa Lucia! —Starting at 3 p.m. Today, Sunday!— Join us on Sunday, December 13…