Every year, in the days before the 13 December, the historic center of Verona is colored with stalls. That's the Banquets of Saint Lucia, which attract thousands of visitors. But who was Saint Lucia? Where this tradition comes from? Here is the story of the saint who brings gifts to children.
Who was Saint Lucia
Lucia was a wealthy young girl who lived in Syracuse in the third / fourth century AD. Fervent Christian thanks to her mother, during a pilgrimage appeared to her Sant'Agata that prophesied her the martyrdom. At the same time, her very sickmother healed. After the miracle, Lucia decided to devote her life to God and broke off the engagement with her future husband. The latter, angered by the abandonment, denounced the girl to the Prefect. In this way, Lucia was arrested on charges of being Christian. The 13 December 304, the young girl was decapitated; before dying, Lucia gave prophecies, then occurred. On his grave a church was built and since then Santa Lucia is the object of veneration.
The tradition of the gifts of Saint Lucia
Although she was a Sicilian girl, the worship of Santa Lucia is widespread in northern Italy, particularly in the provinces of Brescia and Verona. Here, the night between the 12 and the 13 December, children waiting for Santa with his donkey. Traditionally, Santa Lucia brings gifts to children, that on the morning of 13 find the gifts under the Xmas tree. Each territory respects the different traditions, however. For instance, in Verona, Saint Lucia is accompanied by a Gastaldo, an aide, while in Brescia the Santa brings gifts only with the help of the donkey.
The Banquets of Saint Lucia in Verona
Another tradition of Verona is the setting up of the Banquets of Saint Lucia in Piazza Bra and nearby streets. From the 10 to the 13 December, hundreds of stalls decorate the historic center. In this market you can buy lots of different commodities, not just Christmas decorations. Pots, jewelry, incenses, hats and toys are just some of the products sold at banquets. Finally, there are plenty of stands selling food, like sandwiches and pancakes. The origin of this tradition is more recent than the History of Saint Lucia. It is said that to convince some children, suffering from an eye disease, to go on pilgrimage to the Church of St. Agnes, it was promised that Santa Lucia would give them sweets. This loophole attracted in the square many sellers of toys and sweets. According to legend, this happened in the thirteenth century and even today Piazza Bra houses the beautiful fair.