In many parts of the world, especially Sweden, Norway and the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland, the Festival of Lights and Saint Lucia’s Feast Day mark the beginning of the Christmas Season. Saint Lucia is among the earliest Christian Martyrs. Her Feast Day honors her death at the hand of the Romans on December 13, 304.
Even in the face of death, Saint Lucia refused to abandon her religious convictions. Her story is set against the backdrop of great political uncertainty and turmoil. The Roman Empire was in a state of decline, lashing out to oppress people of faith, and all those deemed to be a threat to their agenda. Many who opposed the Empire were forced into hiding in the catacombs of Rome to escape torture and death. Saint Lucia, a woman of faith and conviction, risked everything to bring food to those in hiding. When entering the darkness of the catacombs, Lucia wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way. This allow her hands to be free so that she could carry more for those in need. This is why a coffee cake or bread with candles are often the traditional food of her Feast Day. It is also why this day is known as The Festival of Lights.
Today America finds itself in political turmoil. Cancel Culture has run amuck – those in opposition or of differing opinions than that of the far Left face having their livelihoods destroyed, their businesses close and their freedoms striped away. I do not patronize certain businesses because I personally disagree with some political or business practices of that business. That’s my choice. I would never think to march outside a business I disagree with and demand that they not be allowed to exist. Nor would I organize against them. I have my opinion, they have theirs. And that’s as it should be. Live and let live.
Yet I wonder, would I have the courage of Saint Lucia? Would any of us? I pray we are never put to such a test of courage in America. I fear many of us would fail. Just as I pray for those in other parts of the world who face torture and death for their personal beliefs. It’s wrong to expect us all think the same or believe the same or even pray the same to be one race – the Human Race.
In celebration of Saint Lucia, I thought we’d look to the warmth of the Season amidst the cold, darkness of winter. Nothing says warmth like a bowl of soup. And nothing is more humble than vegetable soup.
Humble Vegetable Beef Soup
1/2 Onion, diced
5 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 lb Ground Beef
3 cups Beef Stock
1 (16 oz) bag frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian Style Diced Tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1-1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
Cut onion in half from root to tip. Reserve half for another use. Peel remaining half, dice and set aside. Peel garlic, finely dice and set aside.
In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef, onions and garlic. Cook about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain well, return beef mixture to pan.
Add beef stock, frozen vegetables, tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce. Season, heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with warm rolls.