In Ancient Rome, the Brumalia honoured Saturn and Ceres. In East Asia, the Dongzhi Festival marks the time when the feminine life force of Yin is balanced with the masculine force of Yang. During the night of the Korochun of the Slavs, the old Sun dies and the new one is reborn with the next sunrise. This period was also very important to the Celts and the Germanic peoples (Yule).
Apart from these festivals and celebrations, there is also a quiet and gentle tradition originating from Hungary that is observed every day from the 13th of December until Christmas. It is called the wheat of Luca (pronounced as “lutsa”). In Central Europe, wheat used to be the one constant and most important element of people’s diet. Any meal was unimaginable without bread.
The seeds do not only carry within them the full-grown plant itself but they also symbolise the continuity of life: they will grow into wheat and the wheat will transform into a human body.
The period preceding the Winter Solstice is a time to honour the pregnant Mother Earth: all living things enter her womb to grow and wait in darkness to be born again.
After the grains are planted on 13th December, they need regular care, every day. They need warmth and just the right amount of water. The sprouts usually appear within a few days or so, and by Christmas, the wheat is quite tall. Then the pot can be decorated with ribbons and candles and placed at an important spot in the home; sometimes it becomes the centrepiece of the holiday table. The Luca day wheat does not “symbolise” the renewal of life, it is reborn Life itself.
* If you would like to join this tradition, pick grains that are part of your life every day and/or are sacred to your culture (barley, rye, corn). Make sure they are not chemically treated against germination.