Why Friday the 13th is a very special day for us.

Friday the 13th doesn’t frighten us

Friday the 13th is often considered to be an unlucky day. It can happen at least once every year but can occur three times in the same year.  In 2015, for example, the 13th fell on a Friday in February, March, and November. The superstition surrounding this day could have arisen from the story of Jesus’ last supper at which there were 13 individuals present.  The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, estimated between 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by paraskevidekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th,  making it the most feared day and date in history. That’s the polar opposite for us all at Allegro Optical opticians. Friday the 13th December is a very special day for all opticians, although some may not know it. December 13th is St Lucia’s day. St Lucia is the patron saint of those suffering from eye problems. She is frequently depicted carrying a plate with a pair of eyes on.  This painting was purchased for the British Optical Association Museum in January 1939 attributed to  Francesco Furini. It is now agreed to be an unlikely attribution. It could be English and from the studio of John Hoppner, as suggested by the College’s art restorer But if it is English the original of which it is a copy was almost certainly Italian.

St Lucia

This painting is just one example of depictions of Lucia whose name derives from the Latin for light. She is regarded as a patron saint of those suffering from eye trouble. Because some versions of her story tells that her eyes were removed, either by herself or by her persecutors, she is also the patron saint of the blind. As we said earlier St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on 13th December every year. In particular in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland to honour her as one of the earliest Christian martyrs. Lucia’s feast day is celebrated as a major element to the Advent season and she is remembered with glittering winter processions, drinking punch and singing seasonal songs. In some parts of Europe, notably Sweden the 13th December was traditionally thought to be the shortest and darkest day of the year (as in the poem by John Donne ‘A nocturnall upon S. Lucies day, Being the shortest day’).  So it’s patron saint’s day for optical professionals, OK!  But why else do we at Allegro Optical celebrate? Well December 13th also happens to be our managing director, dispensing optician, Sheryl Doe’s birthday. What a coincidence that this years Dispensing Optician of the year should share her feast day with that of her patron saint. And on a Friday too!  So far from staying in bed all day, or trying to stay out of harm’s way Sheryl and the team will be celebrating what has been an incredible year, with 5 national and regional awards under our belts. It’s been a fantastic year for Sheryl and the team, you can guarantee she’ll be celebrating this evening.

A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being The Shortest Day*

John Donne

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,

Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks; The sun is spent, and now his flasks Send forth light squibs, no constant rays; The world’s whole sap is sunk; The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk, Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk, Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh, Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.  

Study me then, you who shall lovers be

At the next world, that is, at the next spring; For I am every dead thing, In whom Love wrought new alchemy. For his art did express A quintessence even from nothingness, From dull privations, and lean emptiness; He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.  

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,

Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have; I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood Have we two wept, and so Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow To be two chaoses, when we did show Care to aught else; and often absences Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.  

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)

Of the first nothing the elixir grown; Were I a man, that I were one I needs must know; I should prefer, If I were any beast, Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest, And love; all, all some properties invest; If I an ordinary nothing were, As shadow, a light and body must be here.  

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.

You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun At this time to the Goat is run To fetch new lust, and give it you, Enjoy your summer all; Since she enjoys her long night’s festival, Let me prepare towards her, and let me call This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is. Source *https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44122/a-nocturnal-upon-st-lucys-day  

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