Tuesday, 13th December: St Lucy’s Day

Once upon a time, St Lucy’s Day was the shortest day of the year.

Then, the calendar changed (at least for some, then later for others, and now it’s the standard Western calendar …). Even so, St Lucy is still a beacon of light as the darkness increases and the daylight fades…

What does it take to change a calendar? It’s hard to imagine. When the changes were first introduced, realigning the year, an accumulated eleven “extra” days were lost. People rioted over their lost days! They thought that they had been swindled out of eleven days of living that could have been theirs.

Still, the light shone in midwinter.

Change can be painful, difficult, exciting, challenging. It is difficult now to imagine our calendar working different way, but it is even harder to imagine shifting the whole thing. Would we riot? What if your birthday, or your child’s birthday, fell on a day that was “lost” in the shuffle? What would be lost?

 Lucy, whose name means “light”, was not herself the Light, but like many others, she bore witness to it. She was martyred for her faith, and her example burns bright in the church’s memory. She is not the light, and her memory no longer illuminates the longest night of the year. Still, as we draw near to that long night -as we continue through the changes of the ages, the challenges and losses, the difficulties and anxious moments to wait for the Light of the World – she reminds us that we have already seen the changeless and unextinguishable Light, which shines in the darkness; and the darkness has not, and will not, overcome it.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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2 Responses to Tuesday, 13th December: St Lucy’s Day

  1. Ken Ranos says:

    I was actually looking up information about the switch from the Julian to Gregorian calendar earlier this week… weird. My home church still celebrates Santa Lucia (it’s an old Swedish church), and I didn’t know that her festival used to fall on the Winter Solstice. Thanks for sharing that!

    • I read the John Donne poem about St Lucy’s being the shortest day at school and it always stuck with me – but I missed the part where the teacher told us about the calendar change, so it always puzzled me … Maybe that’s why I remembered!

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