Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This Week: A Wonderful Tradition!



As you may all have heard the Santa Lucia celebration is huge in Sweden and in the Swedish speaking parts of Finland. As far as I know those are the only two countries observing Santa Lucia , but please, correct me if I'm wrong. Tomorrow you'll be sure to find lots of Lucia brides and her attendants all over Sweden. Almost every office with self respect has their own Lucia celebration complete with the almighty Lucia train: the Lucia bride, her attendants, Star boys, and some ginger bread men, and one little Santa Claus ,or two, in the end of the train. It is an incredible beautiful sight!!! In the early dark morning you'll see these lovely girls, and the Star boys, wander (in to the room, hall, church, office, hospital, day care etc)dressed in long white gowns, candles in their hands. The Lucia Bride has a wreath with lit candles on her head. They sing the "Santa Lucia song", and then they continue with an assortment of Christmas carols. ALL the Nobel Prize winners that are staying at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm are treated to the sight and the songs. The white dressed girls will suprise each and every Noble Prize winner to the treat in their hotel rooms. I've know of quite a few who thought they have died and gone to heaven when they woke up to see the girls and the lights and the long white gowns.


Every school in Sweden, and the Swedish speaking part of Finland, will select their own Lucia bride. Usually the blondest and most popular girl in school will be elected, of course. The rest of the girls will be her attendants. BUT nowadays, at least in the lower grades, anybody can choose to become a Lucia bride.

When I was in school I was never, ever voted to become the bride. Of course not, I had brown hair and was not all that popular either. But since I had a good singing voice I always had a space in the choir. And what a feeling it was to wake up on December, 13! The gown was hanging in the hallway at home ready to go, newly ironed, the glitter sashes were lying in the bag. As an attendant you'd always have a glitter sash in your hair and one around your waist. Then we walked to school, and it was always, as I can remember it now, ice cold and snow on the ground and PITCH black!!! We gathered at school around 6.30 AM. Then the parents, the lower grades and the people in the upper grades that were not cut out for the choir gathered in the big hall at the school to watch us, and we (in the choir) were nervous and SO excited! It was such a feeling of joy and anxiety because we all had to walk down a steep set of stairs all the way down to the big hall. Our biggest fear was slipping and falling. It never happened to me, or to anybody else as I can remember it.
We started walking slowly, slowly while singing all the way down to the stage. On stage we'd continued to sing Christmas songs. The big hall was always PACKED with parents and relatives. The big Christmas tree was glowing and we were glowing and singing our hearts out in all kinds of harmonies. Lovely!
To this day the Lucia celebration brings tears to my eyes, because it is simply lovely and so beautiful!




The rest of the day on December, 13, in school, was nothing but fun! We had a Christmas party in the class room, ate ginger snaps and Saffron buns and drank juice or Julmust ( a special soft drink that you'll only drink around Christmas).

In the evening we were singing for our parents at home. A lot of times my good friends came along, too. They were also in the choir at school so my parents were treated to the same Christmas songs and harmonies yet again. Sometimes my parents chimed in as well, in a fourth harmony.
After the second Lucia celebration of the day we had Glögg, well without alcohol for us kids, and Christmas cookies.

LUCIA is a huge, huge holiday back home. Tomorrow morning they'll broadcast it live on National TV. All day long you're bound to see adults with glitter in their hair or in Santa hats. At all offices and work places you're sure to drink glögg, yes with alcohol, tomorrow! It is a festive day at a very, very, very dark time of the year.
I am from Stockholm, as you all know, and the sun rises around 9 AM in December, it sets before 3 PM again. In between there is dusk, the sun sits so low, low over the tree tops. It is wonderful!!! AND I cannot wait to go home come this Saturday!

6 comments:

Melinda said...

Sounds lovely! I wish I could witness the Santa Lucia celebration some day. I know you will be so happy to be part of your family's and Swedish traditions this Christmas season. We will miss you all a lot, but I know you will have so much fun. I hope you get some snow too!

Keith said...

Santa Lucia is a beautiful tradition. I'm with Melinda, it would be nice to witness one day. I know you are looking forward to spending Christmas and the New Year with your family. Only a few more days now!

Sara said...

Annika, this is a beautiful post. I can really feel the excitement of the holiday as you describe it. I'm sorry though, that we don't have the tradition here because it sounds so special. You'll be home soon and having a wonderful Christmas with your family in your beloved Sweden! It'll be great!

Suzanne said...

The National Cathedral in Wash does the ceremony. I saw it one year with Annika and Peter, it is beautiful. Santa Lucia is also a beautiful song! The story behind the celebration is very interesting too! We will miss you this Christmas!

Panter said...

Det blir väldigt exotiskt att läsa om det på engelska! Trevlig Luciadag!

Annika said...

Melinda:
It is a beautiful celebration, it really is!
I will miss celbrating x-mas here in the US, too. I have so many traditions on my own these days that I love. But it will be Super to get home as well! Lovely!

Keith:
I think you can check the web-page on the Swedish embassy. They might have something going on this weekend?

Sara:
Thanks!
It is very exciting, indeed! Love it! Now it¨s been so long since I've seen "the real thing".


Suzy:
That is right...They used to hae it there, and maybe they still do! I remember when we saw it. Nice!

Panter:
Det är nog lite exotiskt med Lucia! Och ljuvligt. Hoppas du får trevligt imorrn!