Sometimes people from other ethnic backgrounds are politely confused: we are the Prottiest Prots that ever you would wish to see. Why on earth are we celebrating a saint day? An Italian saint day, in a pack of Nordic types? But listen: we need it here. We need the fire in the darkness, the maidens of light and the costly golden bread. We can't do without it. This is how we manage January at this latitude: because we've had the songs and the bread and the candles. Because while the air is getting colder, the days are getting longer. Christmas has become a fairly theological light-in-darkness, at a remove, somewhat intellectual if the light-in-darkness theme comes up at all. Lucia Day is visceral for us. Sometimes, yes, in the visceral urge to kill the damned singers because it is five in the morning. But even that kind of visceral urge is alive. It keeps going in the ice and the darkness. I need this Lucia Day. I need this holiday from people who just wouldn't quit, or at least tried their hardest not to. I need this holiday of perseverance.
All the people who are on about not saying, "Happy holidays" because "Christ is the reason for the season" annoy the shit out of me. (She said politely.) Heaven forbid my house should smell of saffron and Mr. Macdonald over at Making Light should get to put his shoes out: we all get one holiday, lest someone else have a happy Hanukkah by mistake, lest someone's Solstice turn out to be joyous.
Well, bah and humbug upon them. Happy holidays. Any of 'em you want. If you're not a proper Christian or not a Christian at all, so what? You can have my holidays anyway. Try a saffron bun. Try a cardamom roll. They're tasty. They make me happy. They keep us going just a little bit longer. Sometimes we need our symbols to be direct and tangible, and I promise: it's okay.