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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 19:15

On the 13th of December, we, in Sweden, celebrate Sankta Lucia day. Very early in the dawn she comes with her procession, all in light and beauty. It is a very big day in Sweden and something we are brought up with and something that makes us all remember the light although it is snowy dark and remember that life is beautiful despite the darkness we face back here in Northern Europe at winter time.

 

There are several competitions to whom will be Lucia in the procession, and it is many girls dream to win such or be appointed for Lucia, a great honor. The boys usually prefer to be Santas (tomtar) or "star boys" (stjärngossar) in the procession, while some girls are Lucia's handmaidens (tärnor).

 

Lucia — the bearer of light

 


Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.


Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme:

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.


All Swedes know the standard Lucia song by heart, and everyone can sing it, in or out of tune. On the morning of Lucia Day, the radio plays some rather more expert renderings, by school choirs or the like.

The Lucia celebrations also include ginger snaps and sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter) shaped like curled-up cats and with raisin eyes. You eat them with glögg or coffee.

 

So to you all I wish you a beautiful Lucia day!

 

 

A bit history background;

 

The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. Thus the name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions.


In the old almanac, Lucia Night was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.


The last person to rise that morning was nicknamed ‘Lusse the Louse’ and often given a playful beating round the legs with birch twigs. The slaughtering and threshing were supposed to be over by Lucia and the sheds to be filled with food in preparation for Christmas. In agrarian Sweden, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 20th century, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns (lussekatter) dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.


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Posted on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 01:00

Mtnsunny...thank you for your very wonderful words and enchanting spirit :-)

It was very beautiful experience yesterday indeed...and especially as the snow is very active now..it all comes down to very perfect Lucia setting. Glad you enjoyed this.



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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 22:33

Thank you very much dear Windrider! Im on my way to experience these celebrations in a huge church..very beautiful and they get the accoustics so nice when singing in church (i dont usually go to church but In such occasions I do sometimes)..Nice that you had such beautiful parents who presented the world traditions to you..yeah we have alot back in Sweden..smörgåsbord is a table with varieties of deliciousness..I have lived in several countries though and im not a typical Swede by any means...but I enjoy general traditions offcourse! 



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Windrider735
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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 21:50

I remember that story, Worldmind. My parents used to tell us about Christmas traditions around the world when I was small, and the thing that I liked the best was the crown of candles. It's a beautiful way to celebrate. Thank you for reminding me of a buried memory of Christmas's long past. The pictures are beautiful.
 
Isn't your Christmas dinner where the smorgasbord originated? I vaguely remember something about that. And that the Christmas gnomes were supposed to live under the floorboards of the barns?
 
Happy Lucia Day, my friend.

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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 21:19

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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 21:17

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