For as long as I can remember, December 13 has been an extra-special day in our family. It is the Feast of St. Lucia, which is my daughter’s name-day.
She has loved this day and the saint we celebrate ever since she could grasp its specialness. We have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and read a favorite book about St. Lucy. Since her birthday is in the summer, she usually brings treats into school on this day.
But six years ago, a big event took over her special day: Her baby brother was born, our family’s very own “star boy.” Thankfully, her good nature allowed her to make room in her heart to share this day with her brother. And now, we celebrate St. Lucia Day in the morning and a birthday in the evening.
In the Catholic Church, we are very blessed to have special feast days and memorials that celebrate the sacred events of Jesus, such as His birth on Christmas, His resurrection on Easter, and many in between. We also have holy days to honor Jesus’ mother, Mary, and her key role in salvation history, when she said yes to God’s plan to bring Jesus into the world through her womb. And then, we have days to commemorate the lives of Jesus’ apostles, martyrs, and saints—the heroic men and women who lived in the light of God’s grace and have received a place of honor in Heaven.
These feast days, or holy days, not only celebrate and honor the Lord, through His life or the life of one of His followers, but they also allow us to grow in excitement about our own spiritual life.
There are several Advent feast days, and I wish our family could celebrate all of them, but that is a bit unrealistic for us. We have chosen to celebrate two feast days in a special way during Advent: St. Nicholas on Dec. 6 and St. Lucia on Dec. 13. We celebrate these days in our family to keep this Advent season focused on the Lord and the beautiful and fun ways we can prepare for His coming.
At our house, we have designated St. Nicholas Day as stocking day. This is the day that the kids receive their stockings filled with chocolate coins, candy canes, and a few small gifts. It allows us to take time to remember who St. Nicholas was, and how this popular saint became Santa Claus, without focusing too much on the secular Santa.
The feast of St. Lucia is an honored Swedish tradition. We have a little Norwegian in our blood, but no Swedish, and neither Greg nor I grew up with this tradition in our families. However, since we celebrate each of the saints our children were named for on their particular feast day, St. Lucia Day naturally became a special day in our family.
I am grateful for feast days. The Church has given them to us in order to celebrate our faith and praise God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon His people. We can look to the events or people of these feasts, and strive to grow in holiness and be enriched by our faith. Celebrating the feasts of St. Nicholas and St. Lucia is another way we can prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.
What are your family’s favorite feast days?