Service Project: Cookies and caroling to family and neighbors
Prep time: 1 hr to bake cookies
Duration: 1 hour
Lesson(s) learned: We can look to different cultures for ways to serve
How we did it: I just learned about Santa Lucia's Day. Sorry folks, this isn't going to be a post all about a long-standing family tradition or even of something we've done before. It's going to be about us discovering a new holiday and wanting to try it out. Maybe after reading this you'll want to try it out too.
If, however, you are a Santa Lucia's Day expert, please comment at the bottom with your own ideas and ways to make it a fun service project.
Santa Lucia's Day, judging by the all-knowing wikipedia entry and other questionably reliable sources, is a holiday celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and Italy. Santa Lucia is said to be a Christian martyr that brought food to Christians with the help of candles on her head, so her hands would be free to serve others. The holiday is celebrated on Dec 13, which at one time was the winter solstice so the idea of light is especially important in the festivities. On Santa Lucia's Day, a girl is chosen to dress in a white gown tied with a red sash and a crown of lingonberry branches and candles. She leads a processional of other children (girls dressed as 'tarnor' in similar white robes with red sashes but no crown and boys dressed as 'Stjärngossar' star boys with a cone-shaped hat decorated with stars) who all carol and pass out ginger biscuits or saffron raisin buns to usher in the Christmas season.
Another custom of Santa Lucia's Day is for the eldest daughter to dress in that traditional white gown, red sash, and lit crown and wake up her family with safffron raisin buns and singing.
What draws me to this holiday is the idea of reaching out, through song and food to others. In a very literal sense spreading light to those around us. I want to start celebrating this holiday in our family. This year we'll keep it simple. My daughter is not fond of keeping things on her head so we'll skip the crown and just go for tying a red ribbon around a white dress. We'll bake some ginger cookies together and go caroling to friends and neighbors as we drop off goodies. We'll see how long she lasts and might only make it to a few houses and that will be ok. In the future, I'd love to add in the familial aspect of having her wake up the family with buns and music and be able to serve her family in that way.
Have you ever found a Christmas tradition to adopt as your own? How do you incorporate service in your family's Christmas festivities? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.