Today is December 13, said to be the darkest night of the year, and also the feast of St. Lucy, whose name appropriately means “light.” Contrary to popular belief, Lucy is the English form of Lucia, and is not a nickname that later became an independent given name, in fact, Lucy was fairly common in Medieval England, particularly after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The latinate form of Lucia, is a feminine version of the Latin, Lucius, which was a Roman praenomen derived from the Latin word lux meaning “light.”
The name was popularized by a 4th-century Sicilian martyr, who, according to legend, was a beautiful Christian woman of noble lineage. She was particularly known for her striking eyes, and when a local pagan suitor tried to force her to marry him, she spent the entire night gouging her own eyes out, presenting them on a platter to the lovelorn nobleman the next day, proclaiming that if he loved her eyes so much, he could marry them instead of her. St. Lucy was immediately tortured and put to death and as a result, she is considered the patron saint of the blind.
Her feast day in Sweden is an especially popular celebration. Each year a girl is chosen to represent the saint, while leading a procession of singing white clad men and women. In older traditions, it was usually the oldest girl in the household who was picked, but since becoming a school or city festival, the title is either given to the prettiest girl or the most popular girl, sometimes done by popular demand of the populace, or school, in which the procession is held. The Sankta Lucia wears a wreath of lit candles upon her head and a red sash around her waist, afterwards, glög and lussekatte, (a type of Saffron biscuit),are served. Its popularity in Scandinavia may be due to some ancient pre-Christian roots, in which the early Germanic tribes would fend off the dark wintery nights with a procession of candles, its true origins have been somewhat lost to history, but there is a Scandinavian legend that claims that Saint Lucy appeared to a band of lost vikings, and lead them back safely to shore. Thereafter, Lucy became a popular saint among the Scandinavians.
The holiday is also celebrated in some parts of the United States, especially in Minnesota, where there are large Scandinavian enclaves, as well as in Norway, and among the Swedish speaking populations of Finland and in Estonia and Latvia.
Lucille is a derivative of the Latin feminine name, Lucilla, which was an old Latin diminutive form of Lucia. It was popularized as an independent given name, early on, due to the popularity of a 3rd century Roman martyr.
A modern famous bearer was Lucille Ball (1911-1989), a famous American actress and comedienne, known for her popular sitcom, I Love Lucy.
Lucille currently ranks in as the 613th most popular female name in the United States, she did experience a peak in popularity a the beginning of the 20th century, ranking in the highest back in 1919, coming in as the 27th most popular female name.
Its masculine form of Lucius, was a fairly common Roman praenomen during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. It was borne by two kings of Etruria, and it was also borne by the Roman statesman, orator and philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Lucius is also found in the New Testament, the name of a minor character, an Antiochan Christian. In addition, it was borne by three popes and a 3rd century male saint.
Lucianus, another male praenomen, is related to Lucius, but with slightly different meaning, the meaning refers to one who carries or bears light.
As of 2008, Lucian was the 810th most popular male name in the United States.
Other forms of the names include:
- Drita (Albanian: literally means “light” in Albanian, it is sometimes used as an alternative for Lucia).
- Luzía (Aragonese)
- Lusia (Breton)
- Llúcia (Catalan)
- Lucija Луција (Croatian/Latvian/Serbian: loot-SEE-yah)
- Jasna (Croatian/Serbian: literally means “light” occasionally used as an alternative for Lucy. YAHS-nah)
- Lucie (Czech: LOOT-syeh)
- Lucia (Danish/Dutch/Corsican/Estonian/Norwegian/Romanian/Slovakian/Slovene/Swedish)
- Luus (Dutch/Limburgish)
- Lucy/Lucia (English: older pronunciation of the latter is LOO-shah, and in modern times, often pronounced loo-SEE-ah)
- Lusia (Faroese)
- Lukki/Lukka (Finnish)
- Luusi/Luusia (Finnish)
- Luce/Lucie (French)
- Lucette (French: initially a diminutive form, now used as an independent given name, though considered very dated)
- Luzie (Fruilian)
- Lucia/Luzei/Luzia/Luzie/Luzi (German)
- Zeia (German: old Pet form of Luzei, very obscure)
- Loukia Λουκία (Greek: Modern)
- Luca/Lúcia (Hungarian: former is pronounced LOOT-sah)
- Lúcía/Lúsía (Icelandic)
- Luce (Italian: LOO-chay)
- Lucetta/Lucietta (Italian: initially diminutive forms, now used as independent given names)
- Lucia (Italian: loo-CHEE-ah)
- Luciella (Italian: originally a diminutive form, now used as an independent given name)
- Lux (Latin: directly from the Latin word for “light” it is occasionally used as a given name in the English speaking world, and it was further popularized by the Eugenides book The Virgin Suicides, in which the lead character is named Lux Lisbon).
- Liucija (Lithuanian: lyoot-SEE-yah).
- Luċija (Maltese: loo-CHEE-yah)
- Ruhia/Ruihi/Ruruhi (Maori)
- Løssi (Norwegian: dialectical form of Lucy, from the regions of Møre and Romsdal).
- Lucja (Polish: LOOT-syah)
- Łucja (Polish: WOOT-syah)
- Lúcia (Portuguese: LOOS-yah)
- Luzia (Portuguese: loo-ZEE-uh)
- Luziya/Svetlana (Russian: the latter is from the Old Slavonic meaning “light” and is sometimes used as an alternative form Lucy)
- Liùsaidh (Scottish)
- Lucìa (Sicilian)
- Lucía (Spanish/Galician: loo-THEE-ah in Iberian Spanish and loo-SEE-ah in Latin American Spanish)
- Luz (Spanish/Portuguese: literally ” light” in Spanish and Portuguese, it has been used as a variation for the Latin Lucia. LOOTH-Iberian Spanish LOOS-Latin American Spanish, LOOZH-Portuguese)
- Luci (Swedish/Norwegian)
- Lussa (Swedish: very old and obscure form of Lucy)
- Lukia/Lucia (Ukrainian)
- Lùsia (Venetian)
- Lleucu (Welsh)
- Luken (Basque)
- Lukian (Breton/Danish/German/Norwegian/Polish)
- Lusian (Breton)
- Llucià (Catalan)
- Lucian (English: LOO-shen)
- Lukianos (Finnish)
- Lucien (French)
- Lukianosz (Hungarian)
- Lúkíanos (Icelandic)
- Luciano (Italian/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish: Italian diminutives are Ciano, Luci and Lucio)
- Lucianus (Latin/Dutch)
- Lukiāns (Latvian)
- Lukianas (Lithuanian)
- Lucjan/Łucjan (Polish)
- Luchian/Lucian (Romanian)
- Lukián/Lucián (Slovakian)
Feminine forms are:
- Liczenn (Breton)
- Lucienne (French: luy-SYEN)
- Luciana (Italian/Latin/Portuguese/Romanian/Spanish: Italian loo-CHAH-nah, Latin loo-KYAH-nah, Portuguese loo-SYAH-nah, Spanish: loo-THYAH-nah or loo-SYAH-nah)
- Luciane (Brazilian Portuguese: loo-SYAH-nay)
- Lucille/Lucile (French; English)
- Lucilla (Italian/Latin: loo-CHEEL-lah in Italian)
- Lucélia (Portuguese)
- Lucília (Portuguese)
- Lucila (Spanish/Portuguese)
An Italian masculine form is Lucilio
- Lucius (English LOO-shus)
- Luvcie (Estruscan)
- Lucius/Luzius (German)
- Lúciusz (Hungarian)
- Lucietto (Italian: obscure)
- Lucido/Lucidio (Italian: obscure)
- Lucio (Italian: loo-CHEE-o)
- Luciolo (Italian: obscure)
- Lucione (Italian: obscure)
- Lugh (Manx)
- Ruhiu (Maori)
- Lucjusz/Łucjusz (Polish: LOOT-syoosh)
- Lúcio (Portuguese)
- Luci (Romanian)
- Luzi (Romansch)
- Lucio (Spanish: loo-THEE-o, loo-SEE-o)