Christmas in Verona is dominated by two things: Santa Lucia and the Christmas Markets (stay tuned for more on the latter next week)!
December has arrived with a dusting of snow. The streets are filled with festive market stalls selling anything from intricate decorations to tasty Trentino treats. Today, however, is one of the main dates in the Christmas calendar, because today, the 13th of December, is Santa Lucia, and for the children of Verona, this is a bigger deal than Father Christmas!
For these youngsters, Santa Lucia, or Saint Lucy as we might also call her, has achieved mythical status. Although there as still many religious connotations associated with her legacy, for the children she has instead become more of a Santa Claus figure.
The night before the traditional feast day, children throughout the Lombardy and Veneto regions excitedly write letters for the Saint, leaving them out for her to find. They then set out milk or coffee for her, biscuits and wine for her little helper and flour or hay for her donkey. These little gestures are to keep the saint sweet as she lays out candy and presents for the children whilst they are sleeping tucked up in their little beds.
Unlike the modern-day Santa Claus however, the tale of Santa Lucia is not as wholesome as it may seem, for if the children don't go to bed and keep their eyes shut tight, then it's said that the patron saint of sight Lucia will throw stinging ash in their eyes as a punishment for trying to catch her out!
At Fleek, we like to stay on Santa Lucia's good side, which is why last night we left two mugs of our special vin brulé by the fireside to warm her up before she set off again into the chilly winters night. Missed out on your presents this year? Then keep reading to discover how we made our Secret Saint Recipe and kept in favour with Santa Lucia, and just remember you've still got 365 days to perfect this winter warmer before she comes again next year:
Secret Saint Vin Brulé
Half a litre of red wine
100 g of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Half a lemon
Half an orange
1 apple cut into slices or squares (optional)
- Peel and slice the orange and lemon making sure to remove all the pith (the white bit) and put the peel to one side.
- Take a large pot and add the wine before stirring in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and peel of the orange and lemon. Mix well!
- Add the apple to the pot.
- Place the pot on the hob on medium heat and let it boil until all of the alcohol has evaporated mixing once in a while. Do this for a maximum of five minutes.
- After the majority of the alcohol has evaporated, you can either leave it as is, or you can light the liquid so that it gets rid of the final bit.
- Take another pot and sieve the vin brué between the pots. We suggest filtering it several times or you will have the cloves in your cargo!
- Let the Vin Brulé cool for a few minutes before serving.
By Lucy Bidgood-Lund and Emma Bolus