Thursday, December 13, 2007

SANTA LUCIA

Christmas remains the major feast in the Lutheran Church,like it or not.
Guess I like it despite all the junk and glitter.
Christmas is above all coming home. To church and songs, foods and games, gathered family and finding an oasis of peace despite pains, loss and sorrows.
Today is December 13th. The feast of the Sicilian Santa Lucia. The arch-protestant children are dressed in white clothings, flaming candles and going from door to door singing and giving away Lucce-cats (buns).
Serina is fronting this row (aged four, I guess) in our staircase.
The dark winter afternoon was icy, but the warmth of the surprised neighbors who were becoming something instead of tricked or treated, I'll never forget it.
Hope the children also still remember.
Angles, homemade all over the house.
"Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God," Luke says.
Great! I like that expression.
In twenty years we've only stayed twice in Haugesund. First year of our marriage I became ill, and the faily gathered Here.
About eight yeaars ago my father had to undergo an unforeseen hip operation in Christmas. I made him this angle, and Gunnar went to the hospital late, after my father had fell to sleep to make the night nurses help himheng up a sock with a present in.
The most wonderful smile met us next day when we came to visit.
Christmas workshops and Christmas Children's TV still are essential parts of pre Christmas activities.
And all kinds of choirs, amateur and professional artists, filling the churches day after day for a whole month.
Isn't that a worthy way of preaching the gospel to all mankind???

18 comments:

Jim said...

Hi Felisol -- Yes, Christmas time is one of the best time to tell the Gospel story. Probably next to Easter.
Our friends from Spain have permission from the mayor and city officials to have a Christmas concert on the city hall steps. All the evangelical protestant churches in the city participate.
They are not allowed to preach. But they are allowed to read from Luke the Bible story of Jesus birth. I'm not sure what all else they are allowed to read from the Bible there.
I found this Web site interesting, I'm sure you know all there is there:
http://www.medicinenet.com/kidney_stone/page3.htm
I hope you are feeling better and that the things are passed. If not yet, maybe you should not have posted.
..
That last picture is cute. I'm wondering how long ago it was taken?
..

Amrita said...

In school our German music teacher taught us a song about Santa Lucia. I don 't remember the words but only the tune.

Serina looks like an angel too.
Are the buns special flavoured?
REally nice to hear about all these traditions.

BTW I liked your encouragement comment for Will.

Felisol said...

Dear Jim,
Can you imagine how frightfully the times have been changing?
Gunnar used to be a teacher in what was called Christianity/Religion in junior high.
Just this week a law is passed which forces the teachers to teach "objectively" and equalize the three major religions.
A month ago the teachers in kindergarten were forbidden to sing grace before meals.
I am not at all sure I want grandchildren to grow up in this world.
The undemocratic way in which these matters are forced through by some pseudo intellectuals in Oslo is appalling. more than 90 % of the Norwegian population belongs to a Christian church.
And we're just sitting in apathy letting those few tear down everything that's valuable to us.
Gee, I am ashamed to be me.

I guess Serina must be four on both the pictures from her childhood. Long time ago..

I am still troubled by my right kidney and will for certain look up your address.
Thank you for being so considerate.

Dear Amrita,
The Lucia song is originally an Italian one. You might have heard Pavarotti sing it?
You are right. The Lusse-cats are special. Yellowish because of saffron being a part of the recipe, so are coriander or raisins.
They're really jammy.

Yours Felisol

Terry said...

Dear Felisol..
Every Christmas eve, we all go over to my sister, Betty's house, mom and dad Golden and sisters and brothers and in in-laws and nieces and nephews and grandchildren...Such a large crowd of us. We will all each of us bring over a special food. I will bring over cabbage rolls and scalloped potatoes and as I can't bake Gracie and Mom Golden and Rachel and Betty will have baked up all the goodies, Betty's husband, John will make a huge pot of sloppy Joes and we always make sure that there are plenty of vegetables because two of our family are vegetarians!
Besides the family, if there is anyone that we know of that would be alone at this time of year they are all welcomed to come so we never do know how many will be there.
This used to be the only time that Dad Golden would come out on an evening to be with the family because he usually goes to bed at 6:30 every night!
Christmas day Mom and Dad Golden have Gracie and her family over for dinner and also Sandra and her son Darrell who are from Toronto and who are the two that are vegetarians.
Bernie and I and Betty and John and their still at home kids all congregate at Rachel's for Christmas dinner.
This is the time of year that we take literally hundreds of pictures.
One year when Mom and Dad Golden and us kids were all together at Betty's for Christmas eve, I remembered that one of my friends had told me. "Terry if all the family is there just make sure you get a picture! Because they all might not be together again at the same time.
I was a little tired that year so Bernie and I were heading home and then I remembered what my friend had told me, so I said to Bernie, "We had better go back.'
We did and all nine of Mom and Dad Golden's kids gathered with Mom and Dad for a picture shoot and we were just about to have the picture taken when Mom suddenly broke away from the group with her 110 camera and said. "I want to take a picture too!"
We all started to laugh and said, "Get back here mom...You have to be IN the picture!"
"Yes Wellsy" my dad said...get back here you"..Dad calls her Wellsy when he is in a joking mood because her maiden name was Wells.
Sometimes Mom is so cute!
Bernie and John did the honours of taking several pictures of us.
I was so glad we did that because the next Christmas my young brother, David was not there because he wasn't feeling well and shortly after he was in heaven.
That was the last family picture of us all together that we had...Love Terry

Felisol said...

Dearest Terry,
what a wonderful story from an extraordinary family.
So much love and consideration surly must carry good fruit.
I also like the idea that none should be lonely at Christmas time. If we all invited just one, there would not be this many shut out in the cold.
You sure are good role models!!!!
So blessed that you listened to your inner voice and went back to take those photographs.
They must have been a comfort even to Dad Golden.
Even with nine children he had no one to loose. I know that.

Funny though how well we can tolerate all the dead, starving ang hiv infected children in Africa. Their parents do not love less than we do.
To think that a whole generation is gone and the children must be cared for by their grandparents or the eldest sibbling. It's heart breaking.

Now, there's me and my thoughts wandering while writing.

I also like the idea of sharing tasks for Christmas. I usually make two cookies, one withe puffed rice and chocolate and the other called peppercakes, figurines with frosting and lots of M&Ms on.
Then do the shopping. My Mom just sends money, and I buy to and from in a complex hurley burly.

My mother usually provides food, cakes and snacks. She's all into it now. Guess what, this has been a good time for her. She simply needed to be needed.

Oh, Terry, I do hope that your family may have a good Christmas to recover from all the heavy trials this last half year.
I hope you can sit down in church and feel, that all is done, now is time for you to receive and praise.
(((((((((Christmas hugs)))))))))))
from Felisol

Jim said...

I guess it is telling time here, Felisol. First, I'm wanting this to find you feelng better [DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!!].
ST. LUCIA, I didn't see that the first time I checked your entry. I know ST. LUCIA as a small British island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucia
Mrs. Jim and I were there in May, 2001, when our second oldest son got married. The wedding was in (British) Barbados and then Mrs. Jim and I toured (British) St. Lucia and (French) Martinique.

For Christmas this year, we had our music Christmas choir and orchestra concert a couple of weeks ago.
Tomorrow evening we will have a family Christmas supper and gift exchange at Tim's (son) girl friend's house. We expect all sixteen of the kids and grandkids and us to be there.
Christmas Eve we will attend a service at our church.
Christmas Day, Karen, Billy, and BP will be here for the day. I doubt if the other kids will come, but they may.
After Christmas will be lots of football games, then Mrs. Jim has a birthday January 1.
..
I wish you a very nice and Merry Christmas this year.
..

Felisol said...

Dear Jim, you make me Gooogle around..
St. Lucia where you have been, lucky man, is an island in the Barbados. Guess that is on of those places I'll only dream about. 'But our Santa Lucia, she's Italy, like this article says.
SANTA LUCIA - THE QUEEN OF LIGHTS

Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucia, or Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights. In the early hours of the morning of December 13 a young woman, dressed in a white gown, and wearing a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and blazing candles, would go from one farm to the next carrying a torch to light her way, bringing baked goods, stopping to visit at each house and returning home by break of day. Every village had its own Lucia. The custom is thought to have begun in some of the richer farming districts of Sweden and still persists although the crowns are now electric lights.

In Norway and Sweden it is still a custom on December 13 for a girl in a white dress (representing the Saint), to bring a tray of saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake the family. She is called the Lussibrud (Lucy bride) and her pastry (saffron buns) is Lussekattor (recipe and photo). Today many families have a Lucia-Queen in their own home, often the youngest daughter, who wakes the rest of the family with song.

Lucia symbolizes light and growth for human and beast as she emerges out of the darkness. She is said to have been beheaded by the sword during the persecutions of Diocletian at Catania in Sicily. Her body was later brought to Constantinople and finally to Venice, where she is now resting in the church of Santa Lucia. Because her name means "light" she very early became the great patron saint for the "light of the body"--the eyes. Many of the ancient light and fire customs of the Yuletide became associated with her day. Thus we find "Lucy candles" lighted in the homes and "Lucy fires" burned in the outdoors. Before the Reformation Saint Lucy's Day was one of unusual celebration and festivity because, for the people of Sweden and Norway, she was the great "light saint" who turned the tides of their long winter and brought the light of the day to renewed victory.

Before the calendar reform, her original feast day (the day of her martyrdom) happened to fall on the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice was December 13 by the Julian calendar rather than December 21, which it became with the change to the Gregorian calendar in the 1300s, linking it with the far older Yule and Winter festivals of pre-Christian times. Lucy's lore survived the Reformation and calendar reform, which brought the solstice to December 23.

Another Scandianavian custom was for children, on the eve of December 13, to write the word "Lussi" on doors, fences, and walls. In ancient times the purpose of this practice was to announce to the demons of winter that their reign was broken on Saint Lucy's Day, that the sun would return again and the days become longer. "Lucy fires" used to be burned in many parts of northern Europe on December 13. Into the bonfires people would throw incense, and while the flames rose, trumpets and flutes were playing to celebrate the changing of the suns's course.

From Weiser, The Holyday Book

LUCYFEST / FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

It begins in the darkest hours of the morning of December 13 during the tide of Uht_ (2 a.m. to 4 a.m.). A young woman wearing a white gown, a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and blazing candles emerges out of the darkness carrying a tray of rich saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake the family. Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucia, or Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights. The Lucia Queen, or Lussibruden (Lucy Bride) leads the processions. Albert Eskerod, who describes Swedish holidays in Arets Fester (The Year's Holidays), believes the tradition of honoring Lucia came originally from Germany and speculates that the festival was originated in Sweden by Vikings who traveled south on peaceful trading expeditions to Italy and brought back the stories of the Christian martyr, Lucia.

There are good reasons to question that conclusion. We do know that Lucia is said to be one of the earliest saints. As early as the sixth century she was venerated in Rome as a virgin martyr; although her story as it is known today was written by St. Aldhelm of Sherborne at the end of the seventh century. Included in the evidence for the authenticity of the celebration of this Christian saint is the note that her original feast day (day of her martyrdom) was on the solstice which was December 13 by the Julian calendar rather than December 21 which it became with the change to the Gregorian calendar in the 1300s, linking it with the far older Yule and Winter festivals of pre-Christian times.

There are two legends which are attributed to "St. Lucia" which are also attributed to Lucia which are similar but seem to have originated in earlier legends. At one time Sweden was in the grip of a terrible famine and at the height of winter when things were their worst a ship sailed across Lake Vannern with a beautiful young woman dressed all in white at its helm. She was so radiant that there was a glow of light about her head. It was St. Lucia with a shipload of food. In Syracuse the people were in the midst of a famine and they gathered in the cathedral to implore God to help in the name of St. Lucia. A ship loaded with wheat sailed into the harbor as they prayed. This is the explanation given for the cuccidata, or cooked wheat which is an ingredient in all festival foods. Similar porridges and puddings are also prepared for friends, family and otherworldly visitors and as offerings to household spirits in Northern European and Scandinavian homes.. It is significant that the Italian/Roman version was an appeal to a "local saint" while the northern version was of a shining lady on a ship.

The explanation of peaceful vikings taking home a celebration of a saint who suffered a gruesome martyrdom in order to remain a virgin and serve the poor is hardly credible to anyone who studies the northern traditions. It seems far more likely that the not-so-peaceful predecessors of the later vikings took the traditions that they celebrated at solstice with them when the invasions of Italy happened in the fifth century. It is likely that the similarities in a solstice festival of lights and already existed at that time.

The resemblance to feminine deities such as Nehalennia who was depicted with a ship, fruit and a horn as were others identified with the "Mothers" or matrones who were worshiped widely among both the Celts and Germanic groups with corresponding to Roman ancestral deities is also likely to provide another explanation for Lucia. The Disablot which was held at Winter Nights is identified as being similar to Mother's Night of Germanic customs. Even in Norway where the festival of lights is not celebrated, these deities were represented by volvas or "norns" at the birth of a child as "light mothers" who bore presents to the child and brought first light in the form of a candle to forsee its future. Eating the nornagreytur or norngroats, after birth is a custom that still survives in the Faroe Islands. The Romans had Juno Lucina or Lucetia, the Mother of Light who also carried a tray and a lamp, bestowing the gifts of light, enlightenment and sight, who as also known as the opener of the eyes of newborn children. Such wide-spread customs with similar observance would suggest customs of far greater antiquity then the emerging cult of Christianity could account for.

Regardless the festival itself is easier to document, at least in Sweden. In Halland, a lan, or province in Sweden there are records of an old festival that began on the eve of December 13. Young women there would go from one farm to the next carrying torches to light their way, bringing baked goods, stopping to visit a bit at each house and returning home by break of day. The custom of bringing coffee and food to the rest of the household on December 13 is thought to have begun in some of the richer farming districts of Sweden. The young women wore candles in crowns festooned with lingonberry leaves and candles, a custom that still persists although the crowns are now electric lights.

In the modern version of the Lucia parades, stjarngossar (star boys) join the procession. The star boys, several sources say, represent the young men who at one time went from door to door on this longest night, frightening people, singing songs and begging money. The parallels to other Northern European Yule festivals with mummers, masqueraders and parades of people going from house to house singing songs and begging money carrying torches, lamps or candles, while others entered and brought gifts makes it clear that the Festival of Lights has its roots in heathen antiquity.

Other Lucia customs link the festival more closely with Winter Nights as well as Yuletide. Threshing had to be finished by Lucia's Day. In order to do so, the threshing would go on all night and everyone would be given food and drink when finished. In Christian times it became the day for butchering the Christmas pig. Traditionally the butcher (formerly a godhi or head chieftain) would be given the lussesup (literally a cup of light) which was brandy or another similar drink. Since lusse means light the name Lucia seems to be far more understandable, and would probably be more accurate as Lucy, which she is also known as in Sweden. There is also a remarkable similarity between the lussesup and the bragarfull or holy cup that oaths were sworn on which were associated with the sonargolt or holy boar at Yule.

The Church did not always consider Lucy a saint. Because of correlations of the name with light, not only in the Old Norse but in Latin, Lucia was associated with Lucifer. In one classic tale she was said to have been the first wife of Adam and the mother of the vittra people who lived underground rather than Eve, who in a similar story was said to be the mother of the huldufolk). One account of the lussikatter (Lucy cats) or the golden saffron rolls that are served by Lucia is that they were devil's cats which she subdued, and the cats were pictured at her feet. the traditional shape of the rolls is a crossed shape where the arms are rolled inward and in the curve are bright pieces of fruit or small candles in the form of a solar wheel. The association of the cats also suggests an identity with Freya who was known as the Vanadis, or the shining bride of the gods.

Beginning Yuletide with lighting a candle and greeting Lucy, or the Queen of Light, would certainly be appropriate for modern heathen families who are seeking to re-establish the old customs and welcome the gods and goddesses of old back into their homes as well as ancestral spirits who accompany them on their rounds. Cleaning and decorating for the Yule festivities should be finished by Lucy Day. It would likewise seem to be a good idea to set out porridge or pudding for those who accompany her, or set an extra place for them at the table as well as welcoming Lucy when she comes bearing gifts.

From Lucy Fest. Copyright Susan Granquist 1995. "Permission is granted for publication in kindred or other non-profit newsletters or magazines as long as the copyright notice is retained and attribution is made and notification is made to the author."

Just checking, Jim, did you read the whole, complicated history???
I like stories like that. I enjoy learning that most of the things we cannot understand today has a understandable origin.

About my kidney stones; I've drunken at least three liters of water a day. I am partially getting better.

Lucky Mrs. Jim being a New Years Child. Guess no one forgets her birthday!!

I like big family gatherings. Sixteen is a fair amount. Guess there'll be a lot of laughter and good vibrations.

Family is something worth while to take care of. Maybe our last sign of being authentic human.

I sure look forward to seeing your family pics.
As Terry just told, they are story, that may have changed in a year.
Gunnar has always been eager with the cam corder and photo camera. Now he's made lots of DVDs for my Mom, and they are a great comfort to her.

We also attend service in church Christmas Eve.
(It was on that occasion Serina,4, spoke out loudly as the minister began to read from Luke 2, "I have heard this before".
My mother went dark red from shame. I had problems not laughing out loudly.)

From church and a visit to the graves, we celebrate Christmas on the Eve. Huge dinner, my father (this year my brother) reading the Christmas Gospel once more, the a special dessert where the trick is to find the hidden almond. A washing up break before the youlenisse arrives with all the presents.
Then coffee and youlecakes, dates, nuts, figs and home made confect.
If there are children we'll make an effort to go around the youle tree.
Sooner or later someones falling asleep in the sofa.

Best of all I love Christmas day. Nothing much to do. Just enjoying the presents, eating the same food as the day before, and perhaps waltzing around in a new morning robe. If there's snow, we'll be having a ball outdoors.

Now it's late. I've got to drink a pint of water before going to bed.

PS: I'm pretty sure that you and Mrs. Jim have been to Sicily too.

Terry said...

Hello dear Felisol..
I just heard from LP and she sounds so happy.
No more news about her dad but I think that she has done the same thing as I have about my dad. She has given him over to the Lord and I sure do know that the Lord knows what and when something is going to be done.
I am really looking forward to Christmas this year what with your blog posts, Saija's and Minerva's, I am so excited to be with the family and be writing to my friends.
I got a lot of Christmas cards done today and I sure wish that I had your address so I could send you one...
Mom Golden is feeling a whole lot better these days and yesterday it snowed so much here that we were snowed in. It is the second time in years that Bernie and I have not gone over to Dad's for Sunday dinner.
Mom said that Dad made her a delicious meal...Ha! and for sure he did. He made her baked potatoes and took the cabbage rolls out of the freezer and baked them for her.
The very same cabbage rolls that I had made a few weeks ago and when I made them, did enough that there would be plenty left for them to have whenever they needed them!
Serves him right though. I was going to bring lasagne over this week so now Bernie has enough of that for his lunches the next week!
When dad phoned me this morning, he was almost crying over the phone.
He said, "I have a great big lump in my throat. There is a story on the front page that Mr. Yade wrote and it is so nice!"
I will try and print the story out Felisol and put it on at the Pals.
Of course it has the smallest bit of the gospel in it...just a few little seeds.
Thank you for your nice email letter Felisol. I like the font that you use. It is just like real hand writing.
Well take care. I will write again.
Love Terry......from snowy southern Ontario..
[Mrs. Mac wished it upon me, I am sure!]

PS...I like to write my letters to you on your blog. That way our Little Pilgrim will be able to read what is going on!

Felisol said...

Dear Terry,
I sure like you writing letters to me here, i like the thought of Lil Pilgrim Pal getting updated too. She's kind of a step-niece over in Canada, and I often think she's too far away to reach. I wonder two the two very rare sisters are doing, their siblings and father as well. (Not to mention that there is a mother too in this caring and suffering family.) She doesn't give in easy, our Lil PP. To find work as a dog-walker. That's rare to me here in Norway. I have seen in in "The king of Queens" though, where even the grandpa got dog-walked.
Good news from Mom and Dad Golden,you are caring well for them. Hope they are do appreciate all the practical and spiritual chores you are doing. Its often easy to take for granted what one has always got.
You are allowed to be a tiny little bit selfish (or make room for yourself in your own life as the professionals like to put it.)
Its a good thing that you have laid Dad Golden in the hands of the Almighty. He will not leave nor forsake any of you.
There's a Norwegian hymn: "When I have thought me tired to the death, tell so what you have thought, oh God."
Nevertheless I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. Not our power, but the power we're giving him.
I wish you all good and nothing but good for the Christmas and the year to come, dear Terry, Lil Pilgrim Pal and Lil Montreal Girl.
From Felsiol

Saija said...

those are wonderful pics and memories and cultural sharing ... i'm so glad that Christ is still a part of the Norwegian celebration ... i know it is the same in Finland - though sadly, here in Canada it has taken a more materialistic turn ... but we can each still do our own part - and shout it from the mountains!

blessings and hugs to you all!

Judas Hate said...

Elise,

Takk du min venn.

Vi ønsker du og din familiefred, helse, kjærlighet og glede.

Lystig Jul.

Justin

Jim said...

Hi Felisol,

........*
........♥
.......♥♥
.....~♥~♥~
.....♥~♥~♥
...~♥~♥♥~♥~
..♥~♥~♥♥~♥~♥
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
........[]

To you and your family, Merry Christmas!
..

Terry said...

Dear Felisol
It is Christmas in Canada and so I must send to you and your family a special greetings...Merry Christmas!
Last night we packed Mom and Dad Golden into our little red car and brought them over to Betty's and John's where there was quite a large gathering of his children, grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and 7 extra people who Betty welcomed for the Christmas eve celebrations, and about a dozen cameras!
Dad was very very happy and he told me that the only gift he wanted this Christmas was his family.
He said, "I am a blessed man!"
Now that Mom Golden is getting way too worldly minded. She informs us that SHE wants an ipod!!
Hmm...Slowly but surely maybe we will finally convince her to allow us to buy her a computer!!
Today Mom and Dad are having Gracey and her son, Justin and Sandra and her son, Darrell over for Christmas dinner.They have done this for years.
Bernie and I will head over to Rachel's to spend Christmas with her and her family[Betty and John and her four brothers and sisters]
Of course you can never tell that there might be several other people too. Rachel is so much like her mother. Always has an eye out for those who have not where to go for Christmas....

Well anyways, there I go again...talking too much!
And I have so many other places to stop at...
Take care dearest Felisol and Gunnar and Princesses Serina and Ruby, and mother to Felisol and aunt and Liv if she is around and anyone else who is there....Love Terry

Terry said...

I really miss you Felisol...Love Terry

Amrita said...

Thank you you for your comment Felisol. May God bless you and give you and your family a very Happy New Year.

Felisol said...

Dear Terry,
I have been visiting your blog at least three times while on Sauda-Holidays with only a snail modem to help me.
BUT I'm always glad hearing from you and wonder how you are, The Sherkies and the Goldens.
Now that I'm back in town (Haugesund has 30.000 inhabitants) the internet is running faster and things are easier.
We had a wonderful, mix with sadness time in my birthhome.
I think I seldom was more graceful for spending time with "mine".
Hope things worked well out for you too, and that you managed to get some peace and rest between all the family celebrating.
Your my Canadian sister whom I wish all well and only well.
Hugs from Felisol

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
I wish you well too, and that both the political situation in your neighbor country, your work at Yesu garden, your health and your internet work may turn out just fine.
God bless you.
Felisol

Terry said...

To my dear friend Felisol...
Guess what? You are now a year ahead of us!
It is still 2007 here in Canada and you guys have already welcomed 2008 in!
So I am wishing a year ahead for you just full of God's blessings and Happy Year to Gunnar and Serina and your mom and Ruby and Liv and your aunt...and everybody else!!Love Terry