Today is Lucia Day. In case you don't know, Lucia was a young Christian woman who purportedly was martyred for her faith. She was married to an Italian when all she really wanted was to be a devout Christian. She brought food to Christians who were persecuted in Rome, and wore candles on her head so that she could carry food, according to this website and folklore.
Lucia Day is December 13th. This date was the winter solstice in the old Julian calendar, So this makes it appropriate that in Sweden and in many other countries, especially Scandinavian countries, a Lucia Queen is crowned, usually with a battery-operated candle crown, and a procession is held. She gives out pepparkakor or ginger cookies and people enjoy lussekatts, the buns eaten on this special day. I make lussekatts (see this post for a little more discussion), and somewhere in my recipe collection I have Karin Larsson's recipe for pepparkakor.
Wikipedia suggests some reasons why this Italian saint is venerated in Scandinavia.
Somewhere in all this melee of timing of the solstice, Lucia Day, and Christmas, Lucia has become associated with the Christmas holidays, and I like to think, the return of the light at the solstice. I don't ordinarily spend alot of time with holiday decorating, but I love a little needlefelted Santa that I bought at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival a number or years back. This year I decided to try to find a Lucia. I located one on Etsy. Darla makes adorable needle felted figures and I could spend an awful lot at her shop. Here's the Etsy link. Photo above of my Lucia, product of Darla's talent.