Santa Lucia Day in Tbilisi: Bringing Light to a Dark Winter

The winter is ahead. However, on the 11th of December, the Swedish Embassy reception filled everyone with hope that light and warmth will stay with us even through dark and cold days. The day of the Martyr, most commonly celebrated in Scandinavia and Italy, was once again also celebrated in Tbilisi, bringing men, women and children together in Mtatsminda Funicular restaurant with a nice view and all the accompanying traditions, fascinating to witness.

In fact, the pleasant journey began in the tram which helped us to ascend the Mtatsminda Mountain. Everything was original and resembled no other reception. As a prologue to the pleasant soiree, guests were treated to a Swedish appetizer; a prelude to further discoveries of the Swedish cuisine.

“The Lucia tradition in itself is very old. It has survived through many centuries. It has changed the forms. It brings light, warmth and goodness through dark nights. Lucia reminds us that the darkness will not last forever. At the end of this year, which has been very hard with war, violence and terror, such sentiment is particularly important,” Martina Quick, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sweden in Tbilisi, said at the opened ceremony.

Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), also known as Saint Lucy or Santa Lucia, was a young Christian Martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day, known as Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated in the West on 13 December and coincides the Winter Solstice.

The real candles once used are now often battery-powered, but there is still a special atmosphere when the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing grows as they enter from an adjacent room. Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear ‘light in her hair’, which in practice means a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle, too. Parents gather in the dark with their mobile cameras at the ready. The star boys who, like the handmaidens, are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

The parade was followed by a feast, the culmination of which was a performance of the famous Neapolitan “Santa Lucia” song. Let Santa Lucia bring light and peace to our families in the coming New Year.

Maka Lomadze

17 December 2015 21:06