Today is the feast day of Santa Lucia.
She’s the patron saint of Siracusa. There, they celebrate with a beautiful procession, the statue of the martyred saint being paraded through the streets of Ortigia.
Here in Palermo, however, things are slightly different. As ever.
Santa Lucia is maybe one of the favourite saint days in Palermo. But not for any religious reason.
According to the story, the people of Siracusa were saved from a famine by the saint sending ships of grain. The people were so happy that they ate the grain whole. So, according to tradition on the 13th December, no processed grain should be eaten. That means no pasta or bread.
What’s a hungry Palermitano to do?
The city erupts in a celebration of arancine. These fried rice balls are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner (by some). Offices get them delivered for their staff. The smell of frying oil surrounds us. Post-lunch siestas should be mandatory (I speak from experience).
Palermitani love Santa Lucia as it means they can indulge in one of the tastiest snacks around, with no shame; in honour of a saint, no less!