A lovely tradition that I remember fondly as a child was visiting a nativity scene in a Croatian church during Christmastime and finding fresh shoots of wheat placed near the baby Jesus. I learned that the new wheat symbolized the newborn King who will become for us, our living bread. Like the grains of wheat, He will be buried and then rise in a new form. By placing the new wheat near the figure of the Christ Child, we are reminded of His future sacrifice for our sins by being broken and buried like the wheat, as well as our hope for eternal life, by becoming the living bread for us to eat (in the Eucharist) and thereby gaining our place in heaven. There are many biblical references to Christ being like wheat, our heavenly food, not to mention his very birth place, Bethlehem, meaning House of Bread.
Today’s feast of St Lucy, virgin and martyr, whose name means ‘light’, is the traditional time to plant the seeds of wheat so that by Christmas Day you will have new shoots at least a few inches tall. I typically buy about a cup of raw hard winter wheat from the bulk containers at Whole Foods (to last me through the season). Then I soak them overnight to help the sprouting process and plant them on the 13th of Dec in a shallow dish covered with some moist soil. I keep them on a warm window sill that gets light and make sure the soil stays moist. Be careful to keep an eye on them, since the soil is so shallow, the seeds can easily get dried out or overwatered.
I love this tradition so much, because of its rich symbolism, that I have several small dishes I place around the house: at my nativity under my tree, my sacred space prayer table, and at my dinner table next to a white candle (symbolizing Christ our Light) and figure of Christ in a manger. (Sometimes I’ll even have two plantings to last me through the entire traditional end to the Christmas season on February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation.)
I hope you can try this tradition yourself. Happy Feast of St Lucy, and blessed remainder of Advent to you. For more Croatian Advent and Christmas traditions visit: Like Croatia