Days 153 and 154 — Saint Lucy’s Day

December 13 is a big day in the Christmas season in Sweden and all Scandinavia. I did a post a couple weeks ago about the legend of Sankta Lucia (Saint Lucy). She was a Christian martyr of the 4th Century. She is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye troubles. Her name comes from the Latin, lux, meaning light. It takes no great stretch of the imagination to understand why she would be popular in Sweden at this time of year. The sun rose this morning at 8:36 and set this afternoon at 3:28. I will do the math for you: that is a 6 hour and 52 minute day. And we have 8 days to go until the winter solstice. In times past people thought the shortest day of the year was December 13, so that is when Lucy’s feast day was celebrated. The belief here is that a big celebration of her day will see one through the winter.

And celebrate they do. Parents are supposed to wait in bed on the morning of the 13th and the kids are supposed to bring them coffee and ginger snaps or saffron buns in bed. Mariette and her younger brother used to do this to their parents. The girls wear a crown of candles and the boys were pointed hats with stars on them and are referred to as star boys.

Every town and every school, in addition to homes, also have Lucia celebrations and our school was no exception. 

Here is a portion of the Swedish for Immigrants students–a diverse blend of people from Kosovo, Bosnia, Poland, The Philippines, Romania, India, Iran, Iraq, Germany, Africa (don’t know which country), Hungary, Turkey, Indonesia, and one American, among many others–getting an indoctrination to the pageant. The teachers did their own Lucia thing and you really get a sense that the school tries to make Swedish traditions real to immigrants to help them assimilate into the society. Sweden is not a religious country anymore but the traditions remain and the population supports them utterly.

They darkened the lights and then came in singing “Sankta Lucia” symbolizing the bringing of light into the darkness. The guy in red is my teacher and he is the tompten, or Santa Claus.

After singing some Christmas songs (many Swedish Xmas songs have to do with the long dark nights), the teachers passed out saffron buns (which are not very tasty and Mariette was never able to see the point in them herself), coffee and a seasonal soft drink, jul mus.

Here I am with my first teacher in her Lucia outfit and a Filipino classmate.

The Lucia concert from the main church in Gothenberg was broadcast nationally this morning and repeated this evening.

Here is this year’s Lucia for Gothenberg with a star boy in the background.


So, we have had it on TV and we have had it in school. All that is left is to have it at home. To end the celebration, these adorable kids came by to serenade the homes in the neighborhood. I think the waited until the rain stopped before heading out.

The little guy is dressed as a gingerbread man.

Season’s Greetings from these four very sweet kids! And us.



2 thoughts on “Days 153 and 154 — Saint Lucy’s Day

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