Let’s Light Up These Dark Days on Sunday With Santa 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…

Rice Balls, Glorious Rice Balls

Before I continue with the significance of the December 13 Feast for Santa Lucia, let’s talk about the really serious stuff! That is, that Palermitani celebrate the Saint by eating arancine. Arancine (as they are known in Palermo, pictured right; Arancini, if you’re from the east side of Sicily, pictured left), are rice balls filled…

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…