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…

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…

Patroness of Light

Altar featuring Santa Lucia, Ortigia, Siracusa.   Join us on Sunday, December 13 in New York City! Experience Sicily is partnering with Eolo Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen for a special afternoon feast celebrating Santa Lucia. We’ll enjoy traditional dishes (cuccia and arancine), live music (by Villa Palagonia), and a lecture-discussion about the feast (led by Allison…

The Arancina of My Eye

Let’s talk about the lighter side of the traditions for the Festa di Santa Lucia: Arancine! Yes, this ball of gold is a masterpiece of Palermitano wheat-free street food, and Sicilians of the Conco d’Oro take their arancine very seriously on Saint Lucy’s feast day. The fried rice balls stuffed with beef ragu, peas, and…

Coochy Coochy … Cuccìa

To celebrate Lucia, the Patron Saint of eyes, sight, light, and wheat, Sicilians eat cuccìa. Cuccìa is a pudding made of farro (wheat berries or barley), milk (in this case, ricotta), and honey or sugar. This culinary ritual is practiced in remembrance of the grain that finally arrived by boats on their way from North…