The Feast of Saint Lucia in Siena
Among the various traditions carried on in the city of Siena, there is one that is celebrated every December 13th. This is the party of Saint Lucia, commemorated with a city fair, where you can buy Christmas decorations and various sweets, including those of Nannini.
Who was Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia was a Latin martyr, who died a martyr on 13 December 304, the day in which she is celebrated, during the persecutions of Diocletian in Syracuse.
The acts of her martyrdom tell of a young woman belonging to a rich family of Syracuse, who was betrothed to a pagan. The mother of Saint Lucia was seriously ill and the two had gone on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Agatha, to pray for the healing of the woman. Saint Lucia saw Sant'Agata in a dream and after her mother was healed she decided to consecrate herself to Christ.
After the refusal by Saint Lucia, her suitor denounced her as a Christian, since the persecutions of Diocletian were in force at the time. At the end of her trial with the archon Pasciano, Saint Lucia was beheaded.
Popular devotion has always invoked Saint Lucia as the protector of sight. The Saint, in fact, is painted with her eyes on the cup or plate. However. the episode of Saint Lucia tearing her eyes is groundless and absent in the many narratives, at least until the fifteenth century.
The Fiera di Santa Lucia in Siena
Every year, on 13 December, the “Fiera di Santa Lucia” is organized in the city of Siena near the Church of Santa Lucia. During this fair, it is possible to buy Christmas decorations, objects produced by the city's voluntary associations, ceramic bells painted with the colors of the Siena districts and dried fruit and sweets, including those by Nannini.
This year, due to the health situation we are facing, the Santa Lucia Fair has been canceled. But this does not mean that we must forget about this ancient tradition. For this reason Nannini has decided to make known this Sienese festival, linked to the tradition of the city, with an eye to the future, hoping that as early as next December we will be able to walk the streets of Siena again to make Christmas purchases, both confectionery and material, like the ceramic bells, symbol of the Santa Lucia Fair.
The tradition of the ceramic bells that are sold in the streets of Siena during the “Fiera di Santa Lucia” has very ancient roots.
When the day to dedicate to Saint Lucia was decided, in the first half of the fourteenth century, the winter solstice was December 13 and, given the link between Santa Lucia and light, it was decided to establish the winter solstice as the day of the Saint.
The link between Saint Lucia and light can be traced back to the history of the sacred and anthropology. As has already been said, Santa Lucia was originally from the city of Syracuse, where a temple of Artemis stands. Artemis was the goddess of light and it is believed that Saint Lucia is also associated with the sacral attribution of light.
Since the solstice indicates the transition from one season to another, this "catastrophic" transition needs to be underlined by chaos. For this reason, even the day dedicated to Saint Lucia needs noise and chaos. To do this, in the city of Siena, as well as in other Italian cities, small bells were used.
Excavations of the furnace in the Pispini have brought to light the ceramic bells used in that period. Also thanks to this circumstance, today the symbol of the "Fiera di Santa Lucia" are the ceramic bells painted with the colors of the districts of Siena.