Monday, 10 December 2007

Christmas Stuff


St Lucia was first settled by Arawak Indians around 200 A.D but six hundred years later the Arawak culture had been replaced by the Caribs.
To the islands inhabitants it was known as "Iouanalao" and "Hewanorra," which meant "Island of the Iguanas."
The island was first discovered by the Europeans on December 13th 1502 when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and although he never landed on it he named it St Lucia as it was the saint’s day.
There was no European presence established on the island until arround 1550s when the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, also known as Peg-Leg le Clerc used the island as a base to launch attacks on unsuspecting treasure-laden Spanish galleons.
The Dutch arrived around 1600 and established a fortified base at Vieux Fort.
A party of English settlers arrived on the “Olive Branch” a few years later but there attempts to settle ended in failure.
In 1639, a second party of English colonists under Sir Thomas Warner also failed in their attempts to settle the island.
By the middle of the century the French arrived and "purchased" the island for the French West India Company this did not go down well with the British and hostilities broke out and the Anglo-French conflict raged for a century and a half.
It was in 1814 after a long drawn out series of savage and brutal battles that the British finally claimed the island for the crown.
Under British rule the island prospered and remained under the control of the British crown until St Lucia became independent in 1979.


A terrible famine struck Sicily and hunger had weakened the people greatly.
So in Syracuse a large group went to the church and prayed to Santa Lucia for deliverance from the famine.
While they prayed a ship loaded with grain sailed into the harbor and they were saved.
So to celebrate Santa Lucia day and to commemorate the miracle the Italians feast on a boiled wheat dish they call Cuccia or Cuccidata.


When Christianity reached Scandinavia St Lucia dethroned a pagan goddess to become the most revered female figure.
In Norse mythology the pagan goddess Freya was the most beautiful goddess of love and fertility to whom sacrifices were offered at Yule.
She was the daughter of the god Njord and the sister of Freyr and married to the mysterious god Od who disappeared, she mourned so much for the loss of her husband that she wept tears of gold.
Freya wore the bright necklace of the Brisings and a cloak of bird feathers which allowed her to change into a falcon, and her chariot was pulled by two cats.


Lucia was born to a noble and prosperous family in Syracuse on the island of Sicily.
It was in the days of Diocletian and his persecution of Christian’s that Lucia carried food and drink to Christians hiding in dark underground tunnels.
In order To light her way she wore a wreath of candles on her head.
Lucia’s father was long dead and her ailing widowed mother, Eutychia, planned to marry the beautiful young Lucia to a pagan bachelor.
Lucia however had no interest in marriage and spurned the suggestion of marriage and told her mother she had no want of worldly goods and she had vowed to remain a virgin in the tradition of St. Agatha, at whose tomb she regularly prayed for help and for three years she managed to keep the marriage on hold.
To change her mother Eutychia's mind about the girl's new faith, Lucy prayed long at the tomb of St Agatha.
Miraculously her mother's long hemorrhagic illness was cured and to show her gratitude to her devout daughter the grateful mother was ready to exceed to Lucia’s wish to give herself to prayer and poverty and commit her life to god.
The young pagan suitor, Paschasius, was less understanding and was so angry that he denounced her as a Christian to the Roman authorities.
In keeping with the Emperor Diocletian’s edict to eradicate Christianity the Roman governor sentenced her to be taken to a brothel and forced into prostitution.
The Romans were thwarted in their efforts after divine intervention as Lucia became rooted to the spot and was thus immovable and the Romans could not carry her away even when they hitched her to a team of oxen.
Not to be diverted after they tortured her and tore her eyes out the Romans next condemned her to death by fire, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afirebut after another divine intervention she proved impervious to the flames.
In the end a roman soldier pierced her neck with a sword and she died.
Miraculously her eyesight was restored before her death which is why she is the patron saint of the blind.

It is ironic that St Lucia of Syracuse revered St. Agatha so and prayed often at her tomb
as there were many parallels in their lives.
Agatha was born in Sicily and also belonged to a rich, important family and dedicated her life to God as a young person, and resisted both marriage and sex.
Agatha, Young, beautiful and rich, lived a life consecrated to God and When Decius announced the edicts against Christians she was brought before the magistrate Quinctianus who tried to profit by Agatha's sanctity.
He planned to blackmail her into sex in exchange for not charging her for her beliefs.
she refused his advances and was imprisoned in a brothel but she refused to accept customers so she was tortured and even had her breasts cut off then after further torture she was then rolled on live coals she was later comforted by a vision of St. Peter when she was near to death then an earthquake stuck and Agatha thanked God for an end to her pain, and died.

In the cemetery of St. John in Syracuse, Sicily an early inscription to Lucia has recently been discovered.


St Lucia was a virgin martyr and one of the most illustrious figures in the Christian world she was honored in Rome during the 6th century and her relics are preserved in Venice.


Tales of the courageous Lucia of Syracuse were first taken to then pagan land of Sweden by Christian missionaries.
She became known in Sweden as the Lucia Bride and the tales told that the Lucia Bride, dressed in white robes and her head adorned by a crown of light, would take food and drink to the poor early in the morning.


When St. Lucia had her feast day on the shortest day of the year she was known as the queen of light and people believed that she lead the way for the sun to lengthen the days.


On the eve of her feast day People lit "St. Lucy's fires" they would throw incense into the flames and then bath in the smoke
This they believed would protect them against witchcraft, disease, and other evils.

During the reign of King Canute, A thousand years ago decreed that Christmas should last for a month.
Beginning on December 13th, the feast of St. Lucia and ending on January 13th, St. Canute's Day.


The ancient tradition of “star boys” who now often accompanied the Lucia dates back to the time when boys went from door to door playing tricks, singing and begging for money to celebrate the winter solstice.


"A Nocturnal upon St Lucy's Day” was written by John Donne who lived between 1572 and 1631.


Every year the Lucy bride in Stockholm's is crowned by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In Scandinavia the Christmas celebrations begin on St. Lucia Day when each town and village crowns a Lucia on the first Sunday of Advent.
Apart from the religious duties the crowned Lucia must visit hospitals, community centers and nursing homes before Christmas.


Before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar St. Lucia's Day fell on the winter solstice.


On the morning of December 13th, the eldest daughter in the household is dressed in a white dress with a red sash and a wreath with four lighted candles on her head.
She must carry a breakfast of coffee, gingerbread cookies and sun-colored saffron buns to her parents in their bedroom.
She is followed by her sisters also dressed in white carrying lighted candles and her brothers called "star boys" wearing tall pointed caps.


It is believed that on the eve of St Lucia’s day that miracles occur at the stroke of midnight.
Anyone awake at the midnight hour might hear animals speaking or observe running water turned into wine.


Folklore surrounding St Lucia suggests that unfinished tasks should be completed by St Lucia’s day such as the grain from the year's harvest should be threshed and all spinning, weaving, cleaning and decorating.


In preparation for Christmas farmers slaughter the Christmas pig on St. Lucy's Day.


The Victor Rydberg poem, "Tomten," is always read at the Lucia Fest of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.


St Lucia of Syracuse is the patron saint of authors, blind people, blindness, cutlers, dysentery, eye disease, eye problems, fire, glaziers, hemorrhages, laborers, martyrs, notaries
Peasants, peddlers Perugia Italy, saddlers, salesmen, servant girls
Stained glass workers, scribes, Syracuse Sicily, tailors, throat infections, virgins,
Weavers and writers.


On St. Lucy's Day any activity involving turning motions are forbidden, including spinning, stirring, and working a grindstone as these circular motions might interfere with the return of the sun.


St Lucy is represented by cord, eyes on a dish, lamp, swords, and as a woman hitched to a yoke of oxen
She is also represented as a woman in the company of Saint Agatha, or Saint Agnes of Rome, Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Thecla and finally as woman kneeling before the tomb of Saint Agatha.


Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, Lycia modern day Turkey.
He was from a wealthy family and was known for his Generosity to the poor and a special protector of the innocent and the wronged.
He has spawned many stories such as giving three bags of gold to prevent a poor man from having to sell his three daughters into slavery or prostitution.
Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming Santa Claus. Some examples:
He is also purported to have raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and then pickled in a barrel of brine to conceal the foul crime.
He Induced thieves to return their plunder and during a voyage to the Holy Lands when a fierce storm blew up which threatened the ship He prayed to calm the storm.
He died in 346 AD at Myra and his relics are held in Bari.


St Nicholas is represented by 3 balls, an anchor, a ship, a bishop with 3 children in a tub at his feet or 3 golden balls on a book.
He is also represented as a bishop calming a storm, 3 bags of gold, a bishop holding 3 balls, a bishop holding 3 bags of gold or a bishop with 3 children.


Drake's Island lies in Plymouth Sound, just south of Millbay Docks.
there was once a chapel on the Island that was originally dedicated to Saint Michael and the island was originally named as St Michael’s Island and that is how it first appears in the records when, it was transferred from the Valletort family to the Priory at Plympton in 1135.
The chapel was re-dedicated, to Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors at a date unknown.
In 1549 the chapel was demolished in order to build Hoe fort the Island.
Then in 1583 Sir Francis Drake was made Governor of the Island at a time when ownership of the Island passed from Plymouth to the state.
After this the island ceased to be St Nicholas Island and has ever since been known as Drakes Island.


There is an island off the coast of California used as a research and observation facility by NASA.


St Nicholas is the patron saint of pawn brokers and outside of a pawn brokers you will see the symbol of three gold balls which are representations of the three bags of gold.
He gave to the poor father to save his daughters from prostitution.


St Nicholas of Myra is the patron saint against imprisonment, against robberies and robbers he is also patron of apothecaries, bakers, barrel makers, boatmen, boot blacks, boys, brewers, brides, captives, children, coopers, dock workers, druggists and fishermen.
Also the patron saint of Greece, the Greek Catholic Church in America, the Greek Catholic Union, grooms, judges, and lawsuits lost unjustly, longshoremen, Lorraine, maidens, mariners, merchants, murderers, newlyweds, old maids, parish clerks and paupers.
As well as pawnbrokers, perfumeries, perfumers, pharmacists, pilgrims, poor people, Portsmouth England, prisoners, Russia, sailors, scholars, schoolchildren, shoe shiners, Sicily, spinsters, students, thieves, travelers, unmarried girls and watermen


The site of the Eudocian basilica, erected to honor St Thomas, was identified some twenty years ago, and a new edifice has been erected on the old foundations by the Dominican Fathers.


St Stephen the Martyr is the patron saint of casket makers, coffin makers, deacons, headaches, horses, masons, diocese of Owensboro Kentucky and stone masons


St Stephen is represented as a deacon carrying a pile of rocks, as a deacon with rocks gathered in his vestments or as a deacon with rocks on his head.
He is also represented as a deacon with rocks or a book at hand, by stones or by a palm.


St. Stephen was one of the first seven deacons selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members of the community.
The Apostles appointed the deacons as they were Dissatisfied with the distribution of alms from the community's fund.
Stephen's life prior to his appointment is something of a mystery in is believed as his name is Greek that he was a Hellenist, which means he was a Jew who had been born in a foreign land and his native tongue was Greek.
However it is believed that the Aramaic form of the name Stephen, Kelil was inscribed on a slab found in his tomb which may indicate that was his original name.
Other evidence suggests that Stephen was not a proselyte (a stranger, a comer to Palestine or a sojourner in the land) in fact Nicolas is the only one of the seven referred to as such indicating that the other six were Jews by birth.
It is unclear under what circumstances he became a Christian but he was obviously suited to his calling in order that the apostles should select him.
He spent much of his ministry as deacon among the Hellenist converts which is where he came into conflict meeting opposition from the synagogues of the "Libertines" the “Cyrenians, the “Alexandrians”, and those from Cilicia and Asia.
He was regarded as a good character and as a man of good reputation, a man full of faith, and full of grace and fortitude.
A great speaker capable of causing the most vehement opponent to doubt his own convictions.
It was after such an incident when cavilers of the various synagogues, Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilician’s and Asian’s, had challenged Stephen to a dispute.
after Stephen had defeated all their arguments and twisted their own words back them the cavilers came out with the pride wounded and with such hatred in there hearts they bore false witnesses against him claiming to have heard him speak words of blasphemy against Moses and God.
The ancients and the scribes had long been waiting for a chance to stop Stephens preaching and had him arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin.
He was accused of many blasphemies his clever words now fired back at him like arrows each wounding him.
Finally he said: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God"
No other words could have angered the mob more they violently set upon him and dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death in 33 AD.
Stephen's funeral was a large affair and many made great mourning over him.
However for centuries the location of St. Stephen's tomb was lost until in 415 AD a priest named Lucian learned by revelation that the sacred body was in Caphar Gamala, some distance to the north of Jerusalem.
St Stephens’s relics were then exhumed and carried first to the church of Mount Sion and then, in 460AD, to the basilica erected by Eudocia on the spot where, according to tradition, the stoning had taken place outside the Damascus Gate.


St. Thomas Island is part of the group that makes up the Virgin Islands.
It was first sighted by Columbus on his second westward voyage in 1493 and although he did not land it was Columbus who named them Las Virgenes.
It wasn’t until 150 years later that the Danish flag was planted on St. Thomas and it eventually became part of Danish West Indies.
The island was populated with Slaves imported from Africa to work on the large number of sugar plantations and the islands wealth grew.
But the prosperity of the island dwindled After Denmark abolished slavery in 1848.
The Danish West Indies came under threat of German expansion during World War I so America purchased the islands which became the American Virgins in March 1917 and in 1927 the islands residents were granted United States citizenship.
Even though the islands have there own Governor and a locally elected legislature residents cannot vote in the Presidential election despite being United States taxpayers.


The symbol of St Thomas is the builder's square, which comes from an ancient story that built a palace for King Guduphara in India.


There is still a large native population on Malabar Coast in India who call themselves "Christians of St. Thomas."


St Thomas is simply represented by either a spear or a t-square.


In England on St Thomas day, poor women and children went from door to door "a-Thomassing".
They would beg for the ingredients or “goodenings” for a Christmas feast, such as wheat for frumenty and flour for Yule bread.


St. Thomas is sometimes called Didymus the Twin or the Apostle of India or more often Doubting Thomas, he was a Jew and a carpenter and was one of the original twelve disciples chosen by Christ to preach his Gospels He was a dedicated follower of Christ even Ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem.
when Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visit his sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately rallied his fellow disciples to go with Him on the trip which involved because of the mounting hostility of the authorities certain danger and possible death.
when Christ told His Apostles At the Last Supper, that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way it was Thomas who said “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" and Christ assured them with the beautiful assurance that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus came to them after the Resurrection. And on his Thomas’s return he refused to believe what had happened.
He continued to doubt the Resurrection until Eight days later he was allowed to touch Christ's wounds when The Lord came a second time.
Thomas was gently rebuked for his skepticism and then exclaimed: "My Lord and My God," thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus.
Thomas was also present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus when a miraculous catch of fish occurred at Lake Tiberius.
After Pentecost the Apostles dispersed and Thomas was sent to evangelize and he preached to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians he formed many parishes and churches along the way and he eventually reached India, spreading the gospels as far as the Malabar Coast.
While in India he was stabbed to death with a spear around 72 AD at a place called Calamine.
Since the fourth century the celebration of the transference of his body to Edessa in Mesopotamia has been commemorated on his feast day on July 3rd.


St Thomas the Apostle is the patron saint against doubt and of architects,
blind people, builders, carpenters, construction workers, Ceylon East Indies, geometricians, India, masons, Pakistan, people in doubt, Sri Lanka, stone masons, stonecutters and theologians.


Although July 3rd has been the feast day for St Thomas for many centuries December 21st was given as a feast day to Thomas for no significant historical reason through out the Middle Ages undoubtedly to divert attention from the pagan rites associated with the day.


Frumenty is a traditional Christmas meal from the middle ages made princibly from Kibbled or cracked wheat admittedly this dish was more popular amongst the have not’s than the have’s.


Christmas in Ethiopia is known as Ganna and as the orthodox Ethiopian church uses the old Julian calendar and is celebrated on January 7th.
The most spiritual place experience a traditional Ganna is in Lalibela, which was built by King Lalibela in the 12th century as Ethiopia's own Jerusalem.
Pilgrims travel for days to attend colorful Ganna ceremonies in one of the thirteen ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock.
In the rest of the country and particularly in the capital Addis Adaba the celebration takes place in modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles.
Men and boys have to sit separately from the girls and the women and the choir sings from the outside circle.
As the People enter the churches they receive candles and after lighting them everyone walks around the church three times.
Once people take their places they then stand throughout the mass, which can last as long as three hours


Injera is a traditional Ethiopian Christmas dish which is a type of bread in the form of a sourdough pancake.
The main meal is Doro Wat, which is a spicy chicken stew, served in beautifully decorated Baskets, with which the Injera serves as both plate and fork when it is used to scoop up the Wat.


In an Ethiopian Christmas gift giving plays a very small part in the festivities.
Ethiopian Children will receive a present but it is something very simple and is more often or not an item of clothing.


On Christmas Eve the city of Lalibela In Ethiopia is packed with pilgrims from the four corners of the country.
They spend the whole night outside praying and chanting and then on Christmas morning they form into a colorful procession which is led by Three young men, lashing whips left and right as it makes its way to a nearby hilltop where a special service takes place.
The congregation is fed with bread and wine blessed by priests then when the service is over the remainder of the day is spent feasting, dancing and playing or watching sport.


Ganna is the name for an Ethiopian Christmas but the name originated as a form of hockey with sticks and ball which the shepherds played while awaiting news of the savior’s birth.
The game of Ganna is still played today and forms a big part of the christmas day festivities


Lucina is celebrated as the Sun goddess in Sweden but is in fact a combination of Norse goddess Freyr and the Christian martyr St Lucia. Young girls dress up to represent Lucina by wearing white gowns and on their heads evergreen wreaths with candles in them. The lighted candles, eight in all, supposedly represent the equinoxes, solstices and the points in between.
The young Lucina girls give out cookies on the streets at dawn to celebrate Lucina'sact of sharing food with the needy.


10oz Kibbled wheat
5 Cups water
1/3 Cup beef stock
1/3 Cup milk
2 Egg’s
Pinch Dried saffron threads
I tsp Salt

Boil the kibbled wheat for about 15 minutes in the water until softened once the wheat is softened remove from the heat and stand until the water is absorbed.
When the water has been absorbed add the milk and the beef stock and return to the boil.
Reduce heat and Simmer stirring the mixture for about 5 minutes.
Separated the eggs and Stir in the yolks only then add the salt and saffron then continue stirring until the egg starts to thicken then Remove from the heat
Allow to stand for approximately 5 minutes before serving.


2 pks Dry yeast¼ cup Water (warmed)1 pint Milk1 cup Shortening1 cup Granulated sugar1 tsp Salt2 Eggs (beaten)2 tbs Ground cardamom7 cups Flour (sieved)2 cup Candied fruit (floured)

Cream the shortening, sugar and salt together then add the cardamom and the beaten eggs.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water the Scald the milk until lukewarm then combine the lukewarm and the softened yeast.
Then Blend in 3 cups flour beating until smooth Add the creamed shortening mixture and the remaining flour mixing until smooth.
Make dough that can be handled add 1 more cup of flour if necessary, then Add the candied fruit then knead well.
Allow to rise until it has doubled in size.
Turn out the dough onto a well floured board and shape into loaves the dough should make three good sized loaves. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour.


3 cups Flour
1/2 cup Brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup Butter
3 Eggs
4 tbs Milk
1/2 cup Light molasses
2 tbs Dark molasses
2 tbs Ground ginger
2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking soda

Combine all the dry ingredients, except for the baking soda, in a large mixing bowl.
Put 3 tablespoons of milk into a large saucepan along with the butter and the light and dark molasses and Melt together over a low heat.
Beat the eggs and add them and the dry mixture to the melted ingredients and mix together.
Dissolve the baking soda in the remaining milk and then add to the other mixture.
Pour the mixture onto a greased 10-inch baking tin.
Bake for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven (375F).


In Austria St. Nicholas, is honored throughout the land and It is said that as a reward for his generosity God allowed him to return to earth each year to bring gifts to all the good children of the world.

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