Great Wheels of Fire

St. Lucia's Day

Imbolc is the celebration of the first stirrings of spring after the dark days of winter. Ancient Pagans celebrated the holiday by lighting ritual fires to lure back the sun. One of the most popular customs among the Celts was to have a young woman, representing the maiden aspect of the goddess Brigid, enter the ritual area carrying a circle of lit candles. This circle is a symbol of the Wheel of the Year that Brigid is slowly turning toward spring. Thanks to their Norse brothers and sisters, the wheel was eventually worn on the young woman’s head. This tradition originated in the Norse celebration of Yule.

If all this sounds familiar to my Christian readers, we have another connection with our Pagan friends! As early at the 4th century, Scandinavians and some Italian Christians celebrated St. Lucia Day on December 13 which was considered to be the the shortest day of the year before our calendars were radically reformed in the 16th century. This Christian feast day commemorates Lucia of Syracuse who allegedly brought food to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs. It is said she wore a candlelit wreath on her head so she could carry as much food as possible. It’s also interesting to note that the Roman goddess of light was named Lucina. So we may have another transformation of a goddess into a Christian saint like we see with Brigid.

There is a lovely Italian carol entitled “Santa Lucia” that is sung on St. Lucia Day. One of the English translation I came across is as follows:

The silver star shimmers on the sea,
The wave is peaceful, the wind is favorable.
Come to my sprightly little boat,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

With this breeze so sweet,
Oh, how lovely it is to be on a boat!
Come on passengers, come away!
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Amid the sails, supper is ready
On this night so serene.
With no demands, with no desires,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

This sea so calm, this wind so dear,
Makes the sailor forget his troubles.
And he is shouting cheerfully,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Oh sweet Naples, oh blessed land,
Where Creation wished to smile!
You are the realm of harmony,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

A great book that helped me make some of these connections is Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy. It is filled to interesting rites, crafts, activities and history that surrounds the eight sabbats observed by most modern Wiccans.

Copyright ©2022 by David Taliesin,

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
This entry was posted in Brigid, Imbolc, Wheel of the Year, Yule and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Great Wheels of Fire

  1. Great post! When I started reading I thought, Brigid seems a lot like Santa Lucia… I love all the connections and similarities 🙂


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