Today we would like to tell you the story of Saint Lucia and in particular, of the typical Christmas cake dedicated to her. Between history, legends, and culinary tradition, we will tell you some little gems about this Saint.
Lucia was a young Syracusan, orphan of her father and whose mother was seriously ill. For this reason, she was promised marriage to a young patrician from an early age. Lucia was very believable and, to help her mother defeat the disease, she went on a pilgrimage to the sepulcher of Sant’Agata, who appeared to her telling her that she herself would cure mother and that one day she would become the patroness of Syracuse. Returning from the pilgrimage, Lucia’s mother recovered and she, who had converted to Christianity during the era of Roman paganism, decided to dedicate her life to Jesus, donating all her possessions and helping the next one. To take revenge for her refusal, the man to whom Lucia had been betrothed denounced the young woman to the Roman authorities, who at that time persecuted Christians.
After the denunciation, Lucia was tried, but nothing stopped her and so for her persecution and martyrdom began: with general surprise, Lucia on that occasion succeeded to survive even the flames and died a martyr on December 13, 304 in Syracuse, becoming the patron saint of this city. This story, which was ascertained through Christian sources, is also accompanied by various popular legends handed down over the centuries. The most famous is the one that tells that in Saint Lucia, during her martyrdom, her eyes were gouged out; which is why she is still venerated in Syracuse as the protector of the eyes.
But other curiosities are also linked to this Saint.
The first of all is: “Santa Lucia, the shortest day ever”: in fact, the day of her feast is linked to the winter solstice, although the shortest day is December 21st. Another tender curiosity is linked to the children of the northern European countries who write the letter to Saint Lucia, waiting for her to bring them the gifts in the night between 12 and 13 December. Precisely on 13 December, the children dressed in white, with a crown on their head and lighted candles, dedicate a procession to her. But Santa Lucia is venerated all over the world and for this, we reveal a curiosity: in the Caribbean, there is a small island called Santa Lucia, and here too on December 13 there is a big party!
The Sicilian gastronomic tradition, on the other hand, dedicates a typical dessert to the Saint: the cuccìa. The legend that links the dessert to the Syracusan saint is well known.
It is said, in fact, that the year following the death of Santa Lucia there was a very serious famine that involved what is now the territory of the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse. This last city was particularly affected by it. But at the first light of dawn on 13 December (anniversary of the death of the Saint), 13 ships appeared in the port of Syracuse and unloaded an immense cargo of grain. At precisely noon the ships mysteriously disappeared. The miracle, which allowed the populations to feed themselves, is remembered precisely with the «cuccìa». From that moment on it was decided that every year on that day, only cuccìa and legumes were eaten, avoiding starchy foods (bread and pasta).
For the many curious to taste this excellent dessert and hoping for a small miracle, here is the recipe and some small tips to follow:
leave the wheat to soak overnight, drain it and cook it over medium heat with water and a little salt for about three hours. Then turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tea towel. Separately, work the ricotta with the sugar until you obtain a sweetened cream with a very fine grain. Beat the ricotta with an electric whisk. Add the chocolate chips, candied orange cut into cubes, and finally the drained and dried wheat with a cotton cloth to the ricotta cream. Mix everything well, pour into a single-portion glass or ceramic bowls, and refrigerate. Before serving, sprinkle with a cloud of cinnamon powder and a few drops of chocolate.
So nothing more to say than “Buona cuccìa a tutti!”
Photo source: from the web