Daily Archives: December 13, 2021

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).