Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lussinat: Happy Solstice

There's more than enough red hats and christmas lights and sexy santa outfits. They're everywhere, the jingling bells and the holly. But this year, as I think you guys noticed, I'm getting down to the older and deeper roots of yule. It was frightening, to have a long hard winter ahead of you, and be facing the longest nights of the year at a time in history which had no electric lights, and barely the flicker of a flame to keep the monsters of your imagination at bay. Come together and feast while you can, enjoy your family, because you could never be sure who might not make it through the cold.

From those times of fear, we have rituals of light. Hannukah, Yule, and the lesser known Lussinat.

Lussinat is the root of the modern St Lucia's day (most celebrated in Sweden), which is associated with the Christian St. Lucia/Lucy. The story of St Lucia's crown is that back in the days of the Romans, she gave sanctuary to persecuted Christians. She hid her fellow believers in the city catacombs, and needed both hands free to carry supplies. So, she fashioned a crown of candles to serve as a primitive miner's helmet. Today, young girls wear crowns of candles set in wreaths of lignonberry, and greet the morning of December 13th with pastries and a yummy breakfast. There's often a procession, where one girl wears the crown, and others follow with single candles in their hands.

But originally Lussinat was a celebration of the solstice, and less a celebration than something to be afraid of. Lussi, in the original Scandanavian pagan beliefs was a dark fairy or witch, who would ride with her followers in a wild hunt on the wind. In fact, in an odd way, she was the birth of a lot of the Santa Claus mythos, in that she flew, and would come down the chimney to punish bad children. And if you think about her chasing and hunting deer, it's not too much of a push to think of a sleigh chasing them instead, is it? That doesn't honestly have much to do with the crown, I just thought it was cool.

Also, I apologize for this being late, RL solstice/christmas comes first :)


Anonymous said...

Yeah! You got the crown done! It looks wonderful. St. Lucia would be proud!


Unknown said...

How the heck is someone supposed to contact you about your crowns and horns?

I can't find a single link other than links that take you to alternative sites that I have no time or interest for.