Saint Lucia’s Day
On Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucy’s Day or St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th – so we hope that if you are Swedish or spent your time in Sweden yesterday you’ve enjoyed a nice holiday yesterday.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‚Julian‘ Calendar and the pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day.
The celebration derives from stories that were told by Monks who brought Christianity to Sweden. It was first celebrated in the late 1700s and is most common in Sweden, but also the other Scandinavian countries as well as Bosnia, Croatia and in some parts of Italy.
St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred and killed. The most common story told about St. Lucia is that she brought food secretly to the persecuted Christians in Rome who lived hiding under the city. To be able to carry her gifts in both hands, she wore candles on her head to light the way.
Her compassion is the reason why she was prosecuted and had to die.
St. Lucia’s Day is now celebrated with a girl dressed in remembrance of Lucia. A white dress, which is a symbol of a Christian baptismal robe, with a red sash, which stands for the blood of her martyrdom, around her hips and a crown of candles on her head.
Today, most cities in Sweden appoint a Lucia every year. For example schools elect the best dressed Lucy or the national Lucy is elected on national television from regional winners.
It’s like an award winning competition where the best dressed Lucia in a town, city or region is going to be prized.
In smaller regions it’s very typical that the Lucie’s walk around the town and visit shopping malls, old people’s homes and churches, singing and handing out gingernut cookies.
Lucia’s wish to share food and pleasantries with other people thus also lives today.