Saturday, December 13, 2008

St. Lucia Day

Today is my son Jeffrey's birthday #26. Happy Birthday! He was born in Provo on St. Lucia's day in Sweden which is a celebration held every year: December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old 'Julian' Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia's Day.

St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. (Normally electric candles are used for safety!) The crown is made of Lingonberry branches which are evergreen and symbolise new life in winter. Schools normally have their own St. Lucias and some town and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung.

A national Lucia is also chosen. Lucias also visit hospitals and old people's homes singing a song about St Lucia and handing out 'Pepparkakor', ginger snap biscuits. In homes often the eldest girl plays St Lucia for her family, bringing them 'Lussekatts', St Lucia's day buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast. 

7 comments:

Deborah Godin said...

Neat post, love all the info on the different custom and calendars. Lovely photo too. I'm sure electric candles are safer (good thing) but not prettier.

Kay said...

This looks like such a beautiful custom. What an honor it must be to be chosen.

Linda Reeder said...

We started a tradition several years ago of hosting a Lucia Day dinner for friends, several of whom have Scandinavian heritage, as do Tom and I. This morning we had to call our guests and postpone the dinner until Tuesday due to an expected sudden freeze this afternoon which will leave the wet, rainy streets icy. We are plunging into an arctic blast from the north which will be with us for a while.

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for this bit of history that takes me back to my own Swedish roots. What a beautiful celebration.

ramblingwoods said...

I just read about this on Linda's blog and had not heard of it prior..where have I been living?

Jeff said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes mom! Now if I could just find some Julmust and other swedish goodies at IKEA for Christmas I will be set! :)

mom/caryn said...

I love so many of the Scandinavian customs... and food! This was a great read!