Santa Lucia, Christian martyr from Siracusa, Sicily, died during Diocletian’s persecution.
According to the medieval legend her eyes were gouged out, and in fact she is often portrayed with her eyes on a cup or plate. She was actually decapitated, the ‘honorable’ death reserved to any Roman citizen (such as Saint Paul).
The medieval legend probably originated from the fact that Lucia means ‘light’, from Latin Lux, lucis, and her death coincided with the Winter Solstice. As the proverb says: Santa Lucia il giorno più corto che ci sia ‘Santa Lucia: the shorter day of the year’. That’s why Santa Lucia become the saint of light and consequently sight, the protector of the blind and those with eye-trouble.
On December 13th, in Siracusa, Santa Lucia is celebrated with a huge procession
In Northern Italy Santa Lucia brings gifts such as Santa. The legend says that she comes at night, holding a lamp, with a donkey and a basket full of presents and candies for good children.
and kids leave milk and cookies for her on the door step.