St. Lucy's Wheat Kit contains a compressed peat pellet (just add water and it expands into the planting medium), winter wheat, a prayer card to St. Lucy, and instructions.
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The tradition of planting wheat on Saint Lucy's Day (December 13) comes from Hungary, Croatia, and other European nations. Plant wheat grains in a round dish or plate of soil, then water the seeds. Place the container in a warm spot. If the planting medium is kept moist (not sopping wet), the seeds will germinate and the shoots will be several inches high by Christmas. Then the new green shoots, reminding us of the new life born in Bethlehem, may be tied with a ribbon, if desired, and a candle may be placed near them as a symbol of the Light of Christ.
Place the plate of sprouted wheat near the Nativity set where it will remind all that Christ, the Bread of Life, was born in Bethlehem, whose name means "House of Bread." The wheat recalls the Eucharist which is made from wheat. It also brings to mind Christ's parables about wheat:
THE GRAIN OF WHEAT MUST DIE: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain, but, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. (John 12:24) "Lord, may we die to self so that we will live for You. May we rejoice that those who, faithful to You, have left this world in death are alive with You forever. May we praise You for having died for us and bringing forth our faith as Your fruits."
SEED SOWN ON GOOD GROUND: The farmer went out to sow, and seed fell into various places, some springing up and then withering or being choked out and other seed falling on good ground and yielding a great harvest. (Mark 4:1-20, Matthew 13: 4-23) "Lord, may we be good ground to receive the seed of Your word, and may we put that word into practice."
WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT: A farmer sows good wheat in his field but, when it sprouts, weeds are among it. He advises his workers to allow both to grow until the harvest when the wheat will be gathered into barns and the weeds burnt. (Matthew 13: 24-30) "Lord, help us to understand that evil and trial will be present in the world until your Second Coming. Keep us from being discouraged. Grant us the faith to know that You are in control and will gather those who remain faithful to You into Your eternal dwellings."
THE RISING FLOUR: The reign of God is like yeast which, when kneaded into flour, makes the whole batch rise. (Matthew 13:33). "Lord, my soul is the flour into which I invite You to knead Your grace. As I feel punched and beaten and slapped around by life, let me realize that You are but kneading me into someone new and good."
SEED GROWS UNAWARE: The seed that is sowed in the field grows of itself without the sower being aware of it. (Mark 4:26-29). "Lord, help me to realize that the seeds of faith that I am sowing in others, by my actions, words, and prayers, may be sprouting and growing even though I do not know it. Grant me sure hope that those for whom I pray will be saved from eternal death."
SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN: Christ's disciples were plucking wheat and eating it on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees complained that the disciples were working on a day on which no work was to be done, Jesus reminded them how David and his starving men had eaten food which was in the temple. "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath," Jesus declared. (Mark 2:23-28) "Lord, help me to understand that charity toward others is the highest law and that keeping all Your laws to perfection avails nothing if I do not keep them with love."
SAINT LUCY (SANTA LUCIA)
Tradition tells us that Saint Lucy was born of noble, wealthy, Christian parents in Syracuse, Italy. Lucy had few memories of her father, for he died when Lucy was an infant. As a young girl, Lucy took a secret vow to consecrate her virginity to Christ. Thus her mother was quite dismayed when Lucy, as a teen, refused marriage to a young pagan. When Lucy's mother developed a hemorrhage, Lucy persuaded her to visit the tomb of St. Agatha to pray for healing. When her mother was healed, Lucy revealed her vow of virginity and asked permission to bestow her fortune on the poor. Joyful at her cure, Lucy's mother agreed, but Lucy's pagan suitor was incensed. With the persecution of the emperor Diocletian at its height, the jilted young man accused Lucy, before a judge, of being a Christian. When Lucy refused to relinquish her faith, the judge ordered her to a brothel. However, guards who attempted to drag her to the house of sin were unable to budge her. Similarly an attempt to burn Lucy to death failed so she was dispatched by thrusting a sword into her throat. The date of Lucy's martyrdom was December 13, 304.
SAINT LUCY ASSOCIATED WITH LIGHT
According to the Julian calendar, December 13th was the shortest day of the year. The change to the Gregorian calendar altered the date to December 21st, but did not change Lucy's feast day celebration, and she is forever associated with lengthening days and more sunlight.
As early as the sixth century, Lucy was honored in Rome as one of the most praiseworthy virgin martyrs, and her name was inserted into the canon of the Mass. Possibly because of her name, which means "light," Lucy was invoked by those who suffered from eye trouble or blindness. Due to this connection, various legends arose. One legend claimed that her eyes were put out by a tyrannical government official or by her jilted boyfriend. Another declared that Lucy tore them out herself to discourage her pagan suitor. In every story, however, the Lord restored her eyes to her, more beautiful than ever.
CELEBRATIONS OF SAINT LUCY'S DAY
Saint Lucy's Day, December 13, is celebrated by several European nations.
In Sweden, the oldest (or youngest) daughter in each household traditionally carries a tray of coffee and traditional pastries called lussekatter (Lucy cats) to her parents before they arise in the morning. She wears a white gown, scarlet sash, and a crown of greens and four, seven, or nine lighted candles . Her brothers, wearing white shirts and tall, cone-shaped hats decorated with stars, and her sisters, all in white and carrying lighted candles, follow her. In many towns, a Saint Lucy is chosen to carry coffee and buns to each house. She and her followers, each bearing a lighted candle, sing carols as they traverse the dark streets while St. Steven, represented by a man on horseback, leads the way. The procession is done in memory of Saint Lucy's traversing darkened woods to bring bread and other food to the poor.
In Switzerland, St Lucy strolls around the village with Father Christmas, giving gifts to the girls while he gives gifts to the boys.
In Venice, folks celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy by enjoying fried cheese.
Italians eat small cakes or biscotti shaped like eyes, light huge bonfires, and conduct evening candlelight processions, all in honor of Saint Lucy.
Sicilians pay tribute to a miracle performed by St Lucy during a famine in 1582. At that time, she brought a flotilla of grain-bearing ships to starving Sicily, whose citizens cooked and ate the wheat without taking time to grind it into flour. Thus, on St. Lucy's Day, Sicilians don't eat anything made with wheat flour. Instead they eat cooked wheat called cuccia.
TO MAKE CUCCIA:
Soak one pound of winter wheat (available at health food stores) for two days, changing the water daily. On the third day, change the water and cover the wheat with fresh water to four inches above the grains. Boil and then turn the heat down to medium, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Keep a teapot of boiling water handy to pour into the wheat should water be needed to keep the wheat from scorching. Cook until the wheat pops open and the innards are soft, resembling gruel. Drain off any excess water. This is cuccia.
CUCCIA PORRIDGE FOR BREAKFAST
Serve cuccia cold or warm, with milk or cream, sugar or other sweetener, and cinnamon if desired.
CUCCIA SOUP FOR LUNCH
Mix cooked cuccia in amount desired with one can undrained fava or red beans and 1 can undrained chick peas. Add 1 small clove minced garlic, dash of red pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and one cup water. Cook until heated through and salt to taste.
CUCCIA STIR FRY FOR DINNER
Saute onion in olive oil until tender, add the a can of drained chick peas (ceci, garbanzo beans) and some cuccia as well as salt, pepper and minced garlic or garlic powder to taste. Stir until warmed through. Eat as is or serve over steamed rice.
Mix cuccia with citron or other candied fruit and/or sweetened chocolate chips.
The tradition of planting wheat on Saint Lucy's Day (December 13) comes from Hungary, Croatia, and other European nations. The new green shoots remind us of the new life born in Bethlehem.