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10 December, 2017

St.Lucia – Discover A Swedish Winter Tradition

On December 13th, all over Sweden, the day of St.Lucia is celebrated.  There are costumes, candles, lights, buns, drinks, and singing 🙂

So Who Is St.Lucia?

Along with the celebration of midsummer, the celebration of St.Lucia is very popular cultural tradition here in Sweden. The idea behind this mythical character is that she has the role of bearing light in the long, cold, dark, winters.  St Lucia was originally a young Christian lady betrothed  to a pagan gentleman.  She cut off their engagement, and he was not too happy, so he made the Roman authorities aware she was a Christian.  Consequently she was sentenced to death and became a martyr, and the saint of light.

How to Celebrate St.Lucia:

  1. Dress up: The children are dressed in white gowns, with red sashes, and a wreath of candles is placed upon their heads.  There is often great competition for the role of St.Lucia, and whilst a lot of costumes will now involve electric candles, the main St.Lucia of the celebration is still known to have real candles on her head in most places.  She is accompanied by her handmaidens (tärnor) who wear white gowns and have tinsel in their hair.  She is also accompanied by star boys (stjärngossar), who wear white robes, cone shaped hats, and carry golden stars on sticks.  The processions now often include tomtar (santa like elves) and gingerbread people.  My double trouble are going to be tomtar this year.

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

  2. Food:  No celebration would be truly Swedish without having a special bun or cake made for the occasion!  On this day you eat lussekatter.  They are made with saffron, so have a peculiar flavour to them, but are very tasty. Also on offer are the pepparkakor (small thin ginger biscuits), all swallowed down with some glögg!  Or if you are a child, the incredibly sweet drink of Julmust, or maybe just a coffee if you are driving.

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

    Photograph: Sonia Cave

  3. Sing Songs:  Most of these songs have a similar theme about the dark and about candles, but singing is a big part of the celebration.

We will be enjoying a little St.Lucia celebration in my twins class one evening around this time as they sing us some songs.  They are going to be a couple of tomtar 🙂  Comment and let me know your thoughts on this Swedish tradition and if you’ve enjoyed reading about it below.  You can read more about life in Sweden over on my blog Mamma’s School and you can also follow us on Instagram.

St.Lucia Discover a Swedish Winter Tradition, St.Lucia, Sweden, Swedish Culture, Swedish traditions, www.mammasschool.co.uk

   

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