Saint Lucy

Not to be confused with our Independence Day (celebrated on February 22nd), National Day is the time Saint Lucians celebrate Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia of Syracuse. In Western culture, Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated on December 13th and, as the namesake and patron saint of our emerald isle, we commemorate her and our nation on the same day.

Saint Lucy is the patron saint of light – her name originates from the Latin word “lux”, meaning “light” – and symbolises the victory of good over evil. There are no records of her life; only legends remain. It is said that although Lucy’s mother wanted her to be married to a pagan, she wanted to pledge her life to Christ. Lucy had a bleeding illness and prayed to Saint Agatha for help. Saint Agatha cured her, convincing Lucy’s mother to allow her to dedicate her life to God. Lucy’s spurned bridegroom wasn’t as grateful and told the governor who sent her to be defiled in a brothel. When the guards came to take Lucy away, they could not move her body even after tying her to team of oxen. They then attempted to burn her, packing her body with wood, but it would not burn. Finally they gouged out her eyes with swords, killing her. However, when her body was being prepared for burial, her eyes were restored, which is how she also became the patron saint of the blind.

Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy’s Day is often celebrated as a festival of lights, particularly in northern countries where December 13th was the shortest day of the year before the calendar was reformed. Like most things celebrated in Saint Lucia, we combine the traditional ceremonies with our own cultural quirks added. A blend of activities in the religious, cultural, political and commercial arenas, National Day concludes with the Festival of Lights when the Derek Walcott Square in Castries is brilliantly lit up by Christmas lights and fireworks, and locals create lanterns to hang in their doorways to ‘light the way’.

National Day is when Saint Lucians celebrate . . . well, being Saint Lucian. It is a time of uniting the people of this nation in a festival that welcomes the new and brings light in the darkness – just as Saint Lucy did.

Feature Image: Saint Lucy by Gandolfino de Roreto