Today is St. Lucia Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) – one of the best-loved holidays in Sweden. Traditionally, it is a home-centered holiday and a tribute to all of the facets of light (Lucia means light) - the longer days, the return of the sun (we had some today in Seattle!) and the end of darkness. To children, it signifies that Christmas is almost here.
Traditionally, the oldest daughter in the household plays the role of Lucia. She wears a long white gown with a red ribbon sash and a crown of (real) blazing candles on her head. Early in the morning on December 13, accompanied by younger sisters as attendants and brothers as mischievous star boys, she awakens her sleeping parents with the sweet St. Lucia song and a tray of coffee and sun-colored saffron buns. The holiday evokes the legend, dating from about the fourth century, of Lucia, a Sicilian martyr who wore candles on her head so she had both of her hands free to carry food to persecuted Christians hiding in underground tunnels in Rome.
My three-year-old, Sofia, was so excited for St. Lucia Day today. We made a paper crown with candles that she proudly wore to school to share her Swedish heritage with her friends and teachers. She also took pepparkakar (Swedish ginger cookies) to share. After school we went Christmas shopping, and she proudly wore her St. Lucia crown the whole time. A few people asked her if it was her birthday and she quietly said “No, it’s St. Lucia Day.” It is so cute to see her embrace her Swedish heritage at such a young age. I didn’t totally appreciate my Scandinavian (Swedish and Norwegian) heritage until I visited Sweden and Norway about eight years ago. Now, I love all things Scandinavian and especially embrace them during the holidays! When Sofia is a little older, I hope she will awaken me with coffee and saffron buns singing the St. Lucia song!
Happy St. Lucia Day and God Jul (Merry Christmas in Swedish) to you and yours!
|Sofia in her St. Lucia crown.|