Category Archives: Santa Lucia

Ushering in Christmas

In Sweden, it is Sankta Lucia who ushers in Christmas each year. She is the next of the Gift Bearers of Midwinter, following St. Nicholas, who came in the overnight hours as St. Nicholas’s Eve on December 5 became St. Nicholas’s Day on December 6. Lucia comes to visit on the eve of her feast day, which is the 13th of December. She is a symbol of light in the darkness, and though Lucia was from Sicily, there is no shortage of darkness this time of year in Sweden, up near the Arctic Circle, and so perhaps it is only natural that the Swedes adopted her and made her their own. She will come overnight with a wreath of lit candles upon her head, bearing gifts of delicately scented saffron buns called lussekatter and strong coffee, and what better gift is there than that: a delicious golden ray of sunshine, a gift that delights the palate and that doesn’t need storing away. Perfect in its simplicity. And I will take my cue from Sankta Lucia and leave you with that lovely thought and just the briefest of blog chapters today. If you’d like to read more about St. Lucy and her history and how the Swedes pronounce her name compared to the way we Italians do, then please click on the words “Santa Lucia” in the left margin. Doing so will take you to any of the previous Convivio Book of Days chapters for this day, when we wish you saffron and light in the bleak midwinter.

Our pop-up markets are done for the year (thank you to all who came to say hello and to all who came to shop!) but we have plenty of wonderful artisan goods and specialty foods ready to ship to you by mail. Right now at our online catalog use discount code SLOWCHRISTMAS to save $10 on your $85 purchase, plus get free domestic shipping, too. Spend less and our flat rate shipping fee of $9.50 applies. If you’ve not taken a look lately at what Convivio Bookworks has to offer, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find here… plus you know we appreciate your support immensely. CLICK HERE to shop.

Oh, and an update on my mom: She is home from the hospital since last Tuesday and is getting stronger each day. She is doing well and is back to her embroidery. Thank you all for your good thoughts and prayers. We appreciate them!

Image: Lussekatter, golden with saffron, in their traditional shape.



God Jul, or Your December Book of Days

And now it is December, and here is your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for the month. It is a month of darkness here in the Northern Hemisphere and yet we dispel the darkness with celebrations of light: from the ever increasing light each Sunday in our ring of Advent candles, to the lights that illuminate the eight nights of Chanukah, to the candles on the wreath worn by Sankta Lucia in Sweden, and of course all the lights of Christmas. The lights are powerful beacons of hope in dark times. And this we welcome gladly.

And this First Sunday of December brings the First Sunday of Advent. Advent runs late this year: the Fourth Sunday of Advent happens to be the same day as Christmas Eve. This is a calendrical event that can put occasional procrastinators like me on edge. There have been years where the Fourth Sunday of Advent arrives and I’ve not even begun my Christmas shopping, but it’s all right because Christmas is still the better part of a week away. Not so when the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on the same day as Christmas Eve. If you, too, are in the Procrastination Boat, keep this in mind and make plans now to do things right this year.

But more than a signal to shop, Advent is a time of preparation, a time, as the French Advent song goes, to make our homes as fair as we are able. And not just our dwellings but our hearts, as well. Tonight, on the Advent wreath of four candles, we will light the first candle: one purple candle, representing Hope. On the Second Sunday of Advent, two purple candles are illuminated: the original one and a new one, representing Peace. On the Third Sunday of Advent we add to those a rose candle, symbolizing Joy (hence the name for the day, Gaudete Sunday). And on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, a third purple candle is illuminated, as well, this one representing Love. With all four candles illuminated the Advent wreath shines brightest, just as the longest, darkest nights of the year are upon us. It is powerful symbolism and a reminder of how it is up to each of us to be a light bearer in times of darkness, through hope, through joy, through peace and love.

Advent is the beginning of the church year. It has another meaning, too: Arrival. And even if your Christmas celebration is a purely secular one, Advent has its place: this hope and peace and joy and love help us set the stage for the abundance that is Christmas. And so we circle around to Advent––which used to begin on the 12th of November, the day after Martinmas and our annual time of remembering the dead––bringing us this time of preparation, for before we can properly understand the joy and celebration of Christmas, it is helpful to acknowledge our need to feel those things, lest Christmas come off as too cloying, too sweet. And so we acknowledge the darkness, and understand that the light that pierces the darkness comes from within. Hide not your light under a bushel. And so it is a time, as well, to make amends, and to right wrongs.

Image: A Christmas card from Sweden, designed by Adèle Söderberg. Color lithography, early 20th century (pre-1916) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.



Right now at our online shop you can save $10 on an $85 purchase on everything in the store with code SLOWCHRISTMAS at checkout, plus earn free domestic shipping, too.



Friday December 8, Lake Worth
On the Eve of St. Nicholas’ Day, it is Krampus who accompanies the good saint to scare girls and boys into good behavior, and he gets his own celebration at the American German Club in suburban Lake Worth on Friday evening, December 8, from 7 to 11 PM. We’ll be there with our biggest pop-up shop ever as this night ushers in the weekend’s Christkindlmarkt. Tickets required and must be purchased in advance. 5111 Lantana Road, Lake Worth.

Saturday & Sunday, December 9 & 10, Lake Worth
It’s our favorite event of the year! The annual Christkindlmarkt at the American German Club in suburban Lake Worth is just wonderful, and we’ll be there with our biggest pop-up shop ever, filled with German Christmas artisan goods plus more from Sweden and Mexico, as well as specialty foods and who knows what else! Tickets are required and must be purchased in advance. Usually sells out! Saturday December 9 from 2 to 10 PM and Sunday December 10 from 12 to 8 PM. 5111 Lantana Road, Lake Worth.

The Night Walks with Heavy Steps

It’s late at night on the 12th (actually it is past midnight, so it is the 13th) and in these same overnight hours will arrive the next of the Midwinter gift bearers: Santa Lucia. She will come to homes mainly in Sweden and in Italy. In Italy, where children have left out their shoes and a bit of hay for her donkey, Santa Lucia will tie little presents to their shoelaces. In Sweden, where the nights this time of year are long and dark indeed, the Lucia will be one of the girls of the household, delivering saffron buns and hot coffee to the sleeping occupants, while donning a wreath of candles on her head. Or she will appear publicly in a procession, her gaggle of star boys and girls dressed in white accompanying her. Santa Lucia brings another magical night to this time of dark midwinter.

Though it be late, there is a gift I wish to bring you, as well, though I am no Santa Lucia. A star boy, maybe, at best. It’s a gift I’ve given on other Santa Lucia Days, but it is so beautiful, and subscribers Carl & Kathleen Maugeri loved it so much when I first shared it with you, I wanted to offer it again, for Carl & Kathleen and for all of you, too. It is a song called Santa Lucia, an old Neapolitan melody, but it is in Swedish, for Lucia is sacred to both Italy and to Sweden, two countries that in many ways could not be more different. I love this melding of cultures and celebration. In Italian, Lucia is pronounced with a “ch” (loo-chee-a) while in Swedish, the C is soft (loo-see-a), and the Swedes add a K to the Santa: Sankta Lucia. The song you’re listening to, if you’re listening to it (and I hope you are) is from one of those processions in Sweden: the young Star Girls dressed in white and young Star Boys, also dressed in white, carrying stars on tall poles. “White,” Jane Siberry says, “the color of truth.” Somewhere amongst them is the Lucia, wearing a wreath of lit candles upon her head. Such a beautiful song and such a beautiful sight. Eight days yet to the solstice, darkness continues to build. We welcome light where we can find it. In this case, it comes with such beauty… like the song itself:

The night walks with heavy steps around farm and cottage.
Around the earth, forsaken by the sun, shadows are lowering.
Then into our dark house she treads with lighted candles,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

The night is vast and mute. Now here reverberate
in all silent rooms a rustle as of wings.
See, on our threshold stands––whiteclad, lights in her hair––
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

“The darkness will soon take flight from the valleys of earth.”
Thus she a wonderful word to us speaks.
The day shall again, reborn, rise from a rosy sky,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

Here in Lake Worth, we’ve been so busy preparing for the local Christkindlmarkt at the American German Club. It began on Friday with a belated Krampusnacht celebration that segued into the proper Christkindlmarkt weekend. The fact that it was also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Third Sunday of Advent did not escape me. And now that our last big outdoor market of the season is done, we can in this house shift gears toward Christmas preparations, toward making our house fair as we are able. Tonight, on Santa Lucia’s Night, we will go get our Christmas tree from the tree lot in Downtown West Palm Beach. It will most likely be decorated with lights tonight but little else; the ornaments will be “yet to come.”  But that seems a fitting thing to do on this night that walks with heavy steps.


An amalgamation of Santa Lucia posts from the past is the best I can wrangle for you at this late hour. I hope that’ll do… the wish is just as genuine. Image: An early 20th century Swedish Christmas penny postcard designed by Adèle Söderberg (1880-1915).