St. Lucia in Sweden

In my country we have several celebrations in the last month of the year and I’m almost certain it’s the same for you. Of course, Sweden also has its own celebrations and traditions. A good example is St. Lucia’s day on December 13th. We had the pleasure of witnessing this special day at Dalarna University.

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First a little background information. There are many different stories about the origins of St. Lucia but most explanations agree on a few points. The most recurring explanation is that St. Lucia was a little girl in ancient Rome, who would bring food to prosecuted Christians who lived in hiding below the city. She would do this with a crown of candles so she could carry all the food in her hands. The date of December 13th was chosen because in the ‘Julian’ calendar this was the longest day of the year. St. Lucia is therefore also called the celebration of light, for after this day the hours of sunlight would increase again.

The way St. Lucia is celebrated can differ from place to place, but usually it involves children going around and singing songs. There’s always one child, usually a girl, who is chosen to be St. Lucia, and if they’re old enough they’ll wear an actual crown of candles. They usually wear the same color gowns, white, and St. Lucia will have a red sash as well.

Another tradition for St. Lucia is the eating of ‘lussekatter’ or saffron- flavoured buns. School had organised a free fika with these buns and that was quite popular as you can see from these pictures.

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For the celebration at DU a local school choir had been invited to come and sing for us all. As you can see from the pictures ‘St. Lucia’ was wearing real candles on her head. They sang several traditional Swedish songs for us. It was really fun to experience a Swedish tradition like this at school. And one can never really go wrong with free fika of course! Now, this was only a short introduction into this typical Swedish tradition, but who knows you might be experiencing it yourself in the not-so-far future!

Featured image by Tereza Stejskalova

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