Luciafest: meaning and traditions of the swedish festival of lights

Luciafest: Meaning and traditions of the Swedish festival of lights. Luciafest: To celebrate the winter solstice, a queen of lights is crowned with a wreath of candles. (Source: imago images/epd)

Winter is particularly dark in Sweden. Light brings the Luciafest, which is celebrated on 13. December is celebrated. It is considered the counterpart to Midsummer’s Eve – although the shortest day of the year is actually a bit later.

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Some parents dream of having breakfast brought to bed by their children one day: For families in Sweden, the chances of this happening on December 13 are very good. December very well. Because then the so-called Luciafest is celebrated.

The eldest daughter of the house is allowed to impersonate Saint Lucia. Part of the tradition is that she wakes up her family in the morning with singing – and just with the said breakfast, sometimes also with the first Christmas pastry. She typically wears a green wreath with candles. Being Lucia has its advantages for the rest of the day: The girl may determine then namely.

Lucia: the Swedish festival of lights

The Swedish Lucia bride doesn’t just appear in the family, however. In kindergartens and schools, or even in the whole village, the feast is celebrated by crowning a Lucia. She wears a white robe, a red belt and a wreath of lights on her head. The light is said to drive away evil spirits. Thus, the girl or young woman dressed up as the Queen of Lights also leads a procession, which is the highlight of the festival. She is usually followed by singing girls, star boys and gingerbread men. All participants carry candles or lights with them.

In some communities, the procession passes through old people’s homes, hospitals and hospices to bring light. The celebrants sing Lucia songs and typically eat a saffron pastry called "Lussekatter" (Lucia cats). Among adults, the custom is to drink glogg, a type of mulled wine .

"’Lussekatter’: the S-shaped buns are yeast pastries enhanced with saffron and raisins. (Source: knape/Getty Images)

Saint Lucia refused to marry – for love of Jesus
To celebrate the eponymous Saint Lucia, whose day of remembrance falls on 13. December is, some legends entwine. She lived around 300 after Christ. Her name translates as "the shining one. This goes with the crown of candles it is often depicted with.
There is a reason for this: Lucia is said to have brought food and drink to persecuted Christians as they hid in dark passageways beneath the city. Since Lucia needed both hands to do so, she simply carried the candles that would make her light on her head.
Lucia is also said to have founded a station for the poor and the sick. She is also said to have called off her marriage to a pagan because she wanted to devote her life entirely to Jesus. Thus she became a martyr, because her fiance betrayed her, whereupon they had Lucia killed. She was stabbed with a dagger.

Counterpart to Midsommar

The festival of lights is considered a winter counterpart to Midsummer’s Eve, the shortest night of the year, which is also traditionally celebrated in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries . Because before the Gregorian calendar was changed in 16. Lucia" was the name of the saint introduced in the sixteenth century, the 13. December, the day of the winter solstice. It was thus the shortest day of the year – that is, the day on which it is the shortest light. This falls nowadays on the 21. December.

The Lucia festival is said to have been celebrated in Germany as well before the Gregorian calendar reform. Some sources even assume that the Swedes adopted it from Germany. Initially it was celebrated only in western Sweden by a small part of the rural population, possibly as early as the Middle Ages.

Not until the end of 19. The festival became known nationwide at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the famous Stockholm open-air museum Skansen began to preserve the Lucia customs. It gained popularity in 1927, when the Stockholm newspaper "Dagblad" published the word "Christmas" first proclaimed the election of a Saint Lucia for the Swedish capital. Meanwhile in many regions of Sweden a Lucia is elected.

  • Advent wreath and tree decorations:How to make your own Christmas decorations
  • Intoxicating punch:Nordic mulled wine Glogg make yourself
  • It takes place at the end of June:What is the summer solstice?

The light celebration is celebrated also in Norway, Denmark and Finland increasingly. Thus also there parents come to be woken up with a breakfast at the bedside.

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