Happy St. Lucia Day!

Part of the Advent to Christmas season is  St. Lucia's Day on December 13. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred for her faith, in 304 AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. .

December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, or shortest day in the year. A pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St Lucia's Day. Lucia means "light"

St. Lucia's day is celebrated by a girl wearing a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, traditionally the youngest girl in the family or group. Her crown is made of lingonberry branches which are evergreen to symbolise new life in winter. Schools normally have their own St. Lucia. Boys might dress up as 'Stjärngossar' or star boys and additional girls can be 'tärnor' (like Lucia but without the candles).

Little girls dressing as St Lucia and bringing parents breakfast in bed, caroling in church, visiting hospitals and old people's homes, parading and singing about St. Lucia and of course passing out Pepparkakor is  one of the lovely ways Swedes welcome the Christmas season.

Happy St Lucia Day!

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