My name is Greta and I am Italian, from the province of Bergamo. Today I would love to tell you about a Christmas tradition that I am particularly fond of and that has accompanied me through every December of my childhood: Santa Lucia.
As the festive season envelops Bergamo in a warm embrace, we find joy in celebrating a cherished local tradition - the enchanting feast of Santa Lucia. This time-honoured custom fills our streets with merriment and illuminates our homes.
Santa Lucia, known as the patron saint of light, is celebrated on December 13th. In Northern Italy, Santa Lucia plays the role of a gift-giver to children, a bit like Santa Claus, but differently from him, she heralds the magic of Christmas in a unique way: she doesn't arrive in a sleigh but rather on the back of a donkey.
In the ancient calendar, December 13th coincided with the winter solstice, and in the countryside, it was customary to share a portion of the earth's fruits with families who hadn't enjoyed a bountiful harvest. Hence, the tradition of Santa Lucia's gifts spread from Venice to Brescia, from Udine to Verona, reaching many cities in the North of Italy.
Encourage children to pen their wishes in a letter on December 12th, and during the night, Santa Lucia will come to fulfill them. However, they will receive the toys only if they leave cookies and a glass of wine or milk for her on the table, along with some some straw for the donkey. And of course they will receive gifts only if they have been good, otherwise what they will get is just a fistful of coal (but sweet coal!).
As we prepare to celebrate Santa Lucia once again, let us bask in the glow of this beautiful tradition, appreciating the warmth it brings to our hearts and homes. May the spirit of Santa Lucia also illuminate your holiday season with love, light, and lasting memories.Wishing you a joyful and festive Christmas season,