Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13th- St. Lucia's Day (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Italy)

Falling approximately on the winter solstice, St. Lucia's day is the Scandinavian festival of light. The holiday honors St. Lucia, an early Christian martyr who brought warmth and light to the people in the cold, dark Winter. Celebrating her story brings joy to the whole community and sets off the Christmas season with cheerful traditions.

To honor the holiday, Scandanvian children participate in candle-lit processions led by one girl playing Lucia. The child playing Lucia is the only one who has the special honor of wearing a lighted wreath crown to symbolize Lucia's gift of light. In Sweden, there are beauty paegent-eqse competitions and elections to decide upon who the lucky girl will be. The other children in the processions follow behind Lucia and each group has a certain role. There are handmaiden girls who dress in long white gowns and hold a single candle, follwed by Star Boys who carry stars on sticks and wear long paper cones on their heads. Lastly are the Brownies who carry lanterns. The group of children walk along singing Christmas carols and the traditional Lucia Song, which usually goes something like this:

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun, 
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

During the celebration, Scandanavians feast on delicious St. Lucia's Day treats including gingerbread biscuits and freshly baked saffron buns shaped like curled up cats with raisin eyes called lussekatter.

Below is a youtube video of Saint Lucia celebrations in Mora, Sweden from December 13, 2007.



Picture from http://mmdelrosario.hubpages.com/hub/st-lucia-day: 




Sources:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/517701/St-Lucias-Day
http://sweden.se/traditions/lucia/#start
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU6zd-YpzXw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw5NmXkXjlY
http://vimeo.com/55253944

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