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Saint Lucia Day ~ Sweden

Santa Lucia Song

Night walks with a heavy step
Round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth,
Shadows are brooding.
There in our dark house,
Walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent,
Now hear its gentle wings,
In every room so hushed,
Whispering like wings.
Look, at our threshold stands,
White-clad with light in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Darkness shall take flight soon,
From earth’s valleys.
So she speaks 
Wonderful words to us:
A new day will rise again
From the rosy sky…
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Saint Lucia Day

One of the biggest celebrations around Christmas time in Sweden is Saint Lucia Day on December 13th.  This celebration comes from stories told by the monks when Christianity came to Sweden.  Saint Lucia was martyred and killed for her faith.  It was said that she would bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome.  To be able to carry the food in her hands, she would wear candles on her head.

The celebration is to honor Saint Lucia and also the pagan tradition of bring food to the less fortunate in the long dark winter night.  Saint Lucia’s Day is now celebrated by a girl dressed in white with a red sash around her waist and wreath of seven candles on her head.  The wreath is made of Lingonberry branches which symbolizes new life in winter.   She also may have handmaidens (‘tärnor’) that will walk with her, they are dressed the same but without the candles on their heads.  Boys are now in the celebration and are dressed up as star boys (‘Stjärngossar’). The star boy will wear white and carry a star. Towns and villages will chose a Saint Lucia.  Saint Lucia and her procession will walk through the town sing the Saint Lucia Song and hand out Pepparkakar a ginger snap biscuit.

In Swedish homes usually the eldest girl will wake up early and dress like Saint Lucia.  She will will wake up the other family member by serving them coffee, lussekatts ( a Saint Lucia day bun flavored with saffron and dotted with raisins) and pepparkakr, singing the ancient Lucia song “Santa Lucia”.

Even though Saint Lucia’s Day is not officially part Advent, it marks the start of Christmas festivities in Sweden.  Saint Lucia Day is also celebrated in the other nordic countries, Estonia, Denmark, Norway and Finland.  Many years ago while visiting my brother and his family in Oulu, Finland I was able to see the festivities of Saint Lucia Day.

sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy’s_Day, 

http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/sweden.shtml,

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

Saint Lucia and her tärnor and stjärngossar on Saint Lucia Day

Saint Lucia and her tärnor and stjärngossar on Saint Lucia Day
picture courtesy http://mmdelrosario.hubpages.com

 

       

Lussekatts - Saffron Buns - eaten for breakfast on Saint Lucia Day

Lussekatts – Saffron Buns – eaten for breakfast on Saint Lucia Day
picture courtesy of Lucia – SWEDEN.SE

Pepparkakor ~ cookies eaten on Saint Lucia Day

Pepparkakor~  spice cookie

Recipe for Scandinavian spice cookie found on This and That.

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About the author

Marlys @This and That

A Canadian transplant into USA with an African husband, you can see my adventures in internationally cooking over at This and That.

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