Category: holiday traditions

Sally Forth into the New Year!

After a weekend of new years reverie, I return to this journal with renewed vigor and the usual contemplation this time of change brings about. It started out with a meme on DeviantART:

2009 A Year of Art in Review by =ladydove7 on deviantART

I started off this past year with a lot of uncertainty about where I wanted to go with my art. I knew the kinds of things I wanted to draw, but not how I would be able to get there or where to take my first step. In February, I was just coming off graduation from SCAD and nearly a full year of creative stifling in which I did hardly any creative writing or art. The previous year was not a waste, however, as I learned so much about advertising and the business side of things that I was bursting with ideas for my creative half once I finally got the time to sit down and think things through for myself.

I wanted to go into more narrative works this year, but due to other prospects, ended up venturing into the soothing pastels of angelic territory for an upcoming project. With a year of possibilities ahead of me, I’m full of anticipation to see how current efforts pay off and also to really push Angelic Shades beyond merely a pipe dream and into a successful business venture!

Here’s the short list of my New Years Resolutions:

* Finish the Rapunzel Project

* Start researching for the Archangels Series (and the subsequent Fallen Archangels Series)

* Hit the art fair and convention market HARD! I’m due for more personal appearances

* Make time for exercise before I turn into a giant McNugget

* Read more books, starting with the rest of the Kushiel’s Legacy series

* Start a sketch group (or at least have one night for doodling and research out of the week)

Things I have no intention of changing in the next year (in response to Hayley’s list):

* Drinking green tea and Godiva coffee. This routine has become regular muse bait.

* Chatting with friends online & networking. Some of the most inspiring people in my life live oceans away.

* Being obsessed with the devil in the details, for he is a wily beast I must pursue! My work wouldn’t be the same without him.

* Researching when I should be sleeping (aka. MOAR research!). Let’s face it, I couldn’t stop doing this if I tried.

* Playing video games and watching cartoons. I’ll never grow up! I’m a Toys R Us kid!

*Ignoring the unconstructive naysayers. Creativity & creative businesses cannot survive without constant enthusiasm, positivity, and being willing to face the unknown!

Christmas: Light and Dark

After reading Hayley’s amusing and enlightening post on the Krampus and his antics, I thought I might ramble for a bit about another lesser known winter tradition, the celebration of Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy). Ever since I saw depictions of her burning crown of candles and haunting procession of light, I was intrigued. I spoke briefly about her in a previous entry talking about the symbolism in my depiction of holiday images. She is the patron saint of the blind, her very name meaning ‘light’.

In Sweden and other parts of Europe, Saint Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13th. A young girl representing Saint Lucia wearing a crown of candles and white gown leads a procession of other young ladies, who each carry a single candle. They sing to the melody of the Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia”. Sometimes boys wearing crowns painted with stars (called “Star Boys”) are in the procession as well. They continue through the night singing carols and bringing light to the traditional longest night of the year.

Such a beautiful festival has a darker side, however, and like the morbid artist that I am, I’m delighted by the duality of imagery associated with Saint Lucia. I will relate here a much-abridged version of her tale, which you can read a longer, more detailed annotated version at Wikipedia.

Like many saints, she is also a martyr whose life was cut short in defense of her purity and faith. As a young woman, she pledged her virginity to God, but when a pagan suitor to whom she was betrothed came calling, Lucia dismissed his advances and gave away his handsome dowry to the poor. Angered, the suitor marked her as a Christian before a magistrate, after which she was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel. When the guards came to collect her, she was so imbued with the holy spirit that she was heavy and immovable. They tried to burn her and still she would not be moved. Her martyrdom came at last when the guards drove a sword through her throat and gouged out her eyes. She was said to miraculously be able to see even without her eyes, which is why she is depicted often holding a plate with her own disembodied eyes. Other versions of the tale say she gouged out her own eyes and sent them to her suitor as a sign of her devotion to the Lord, who granted her new eyes soon after.

It amazes me how such a morbid tale was somehow transmuted into a glorious festival celebrating the beauty of youth, abundance, and light against the winter’s dark. There’s something violently primal and yet ultimately beautiful in the imagery left by martyrs in our cultural memories and how they are later transformed into venerated figures bringing joy, light, and feasts. The arrow-battered body of Saint Sebastian, the snow-rimmed form of the dead Saint Eulalia, and countless others all weave a powerful spell that ingrain themselves in continuing traditions (and art!).

Now, would you like a plate of eyes with your Christmas feast?

I hope you all have a wonderful winter solstice. Do you know any lesser-told tales of winter traditions to share? I’d love to hear them!

Image Sources:
Advent Angel by Angela Sasser
Saint Lucy by Domenico Beccafumi