Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa Lucia

I had such an interesting discussion with some wonderful ladies on one of my long-visited (5 years) online boards regarding Santa Lucia Day, that I thought I would share some of my thoughts here.

One asked the details of Santa Lucia Day, as she had never heard of it.

Santa Lucia was the daughter of a nobleman in Rome. During her time, Christians were being persecuted, so many went into hiding. She carried food to the Christians hiding in the catacombs beneath Rome. She wore the wreath of candles on her head to light her way through the dark tunnels and her hands were too full from carrying the food to hold a light. I told Bean that the the point is that Santa Lucia was just a girl (some stories put her at about 14) and she couldn't change the government and she could't get all the Christians out of Rome, but she did something. She did the best she could with what she had and she did it with a loving heart and that's what God calls us to do.

Another disagreed when I said that there are many Biblically based holidays to celebrate. She truly felt that celebrations like Santa Lucia and Martinmas were not Biblically based.I know that if either of us were Catholic, this would be a different discussion. Many of my Catholic friends follow the Liturgical calendar and would be a bit put-off by this notion. However, neither myself nor this lovely woman are Catholic, so what follows in my Baptist girl's answer. =) =)

Both Martinmas and Santa Lucia are celebrations of people doing the work of God, and they can be celebrated with a real and symbolic act by the children. Martinmas, they have a lantern walk, because, as the story we tell, the angel who was really the vagabond in disguise, told Martin that the light of God shone brightly in him. The make and carry lanterns to symbolize how the light of God should shine brightly in them also, and the lantern walk is carrying that light out into the world. I like Santa Lucia because she was a young girl and, as I told Bean this morning. She did what she could to help God's and His people, and she did it with a grateful and loving heart - which is what God calls us all to do. Advent is essentially, a countdown to the birth of Christ. Advent Spiral is the reflection before Christmas. I agree that "man made holidays" are different than the ones you describe, that's why I said they were Biblically based, not dictated by the scripture. However, they reinforce Biblical teaching, they sure focus more on God than the Easter Bunny and Santa, yet by celebrating those days and making them real to her - ie: lantern walk, lighting the Advent candles etc., they become very real to Bean and they certainly help shift the focus of the Season on who and what we are celebrating and less on what she's going to the Sabbath. Technically the only Biblically ordained "celebration" is stated in Old Testament law, which says "Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy." Nowhere in the Bible does it say to celebrate Christmas or Easter -though, technically, New Testament believers celebrate Easter every Sunday. In the New Testament, believers began meeting the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of Christ (Easter) so, technically, every Sunday is an Easter celebration. However, I don't believe that holidays or celebrations have less meaning because they aren't Biblically directed as such. I don't believe that the celebrating of Christmas (Christmas as in celebrating the birth of Christ, not the media driven frenzy) is any less of a holy occasion that the celebrations found in the Jewish faith. If that were so, then why celebrate Christmas at all? We celebrate because of what the day (or the occasion) MEANS to us, how it effects our lives. We celebrate out of reverence and gratitude and love and faith, and those are very powerful reasons. Just as the Jews celebrate Yom Kippur and Hanukah. We celebrate because the event means something very real and deep and powerful and I think that is all that matters.

I so appreciate these kinds of discussions because inward reflecting on your beliefs and how they manifest themselves in your life is such a beautiful thing. Also, I so appreciate the kinds of friends you can have these discussions with; not offensive, not judgemental, but thought provoking and sincere. =) =)

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