Celebrating Lucia in Calgary
You’ve probably already noticed that I love traditions. One of the Christmas traditions in Sweden is celebrating Lucia on the 13th of December. For all the Swedes in Canada thinking they will have to make their own Lucia at home, don’t worry! I thought I would miss it this year as well, but to my big surprise I was able to keep the tradition – the Swedish school in Calgary, just like some other Swedish schools in Canada, is celebrating Lucia every year!
I guess it’s mostly for the families of the children participating, but I was told everyone is welcome to join. So we did, and it was beautiful! The children were so cute in their white gowns and it was quite cool to hear everybody sing Swedish Christmas songs. Afterwards, at least 100+ persons gathered together to have a Swedish Christmas fika. I was so happy to find some Swedish cookies and saffron buns!
Why are we celebrating Lucia?
If you’re not from the Nordic countries, you might never have heard of celebrating Lucia, in this way, before. We are celebrating Lucia each year, but to be honest, a lot of us don’t even know why either! There are actually a few different possible reasons to why we do this:
- Saint Lucia was a 3rd-century martyr born in Syracruse. Her feast day is celebrated on the 13th of December. The Nordic way of celebrating Lucia is by having a Lucia with her entourage singing Christmas songs. Since Lucia is the bringer of light, she’s in the front with a wreath of candles on her head. After her is the entourage of tärnor and stjärngossar. Traditionally, the girls hold a candle and have glitter in their hair while boys hold a star on a stick and have a paper cone on their head. Being dressed as a gnome or a gingerbread man can also be okay and is common among younger kids. Celebrating Lucia is usually done in a church but can also be in a big hall in schools – been there, done that! It’s also very common to perform at hospitals, nursing homes and other types of centres.
- However, the 13th of December was also said to be the darkest night in Sweden in the old almanac (the Julian calendar). It was seen as a dangerous night; supernatural creatures were said to come alive.
- There are also sayings that the wreath of candles Lucia is wearing, either comes from a German tradition or from Saint Lucia wearing it while being down in the catacombs. As you can see, it’s no wonder that we are a bit confused why we are celebrating Lucia on the 13th! But we enjoy our tradition!
I can go on with even more reasons but I’ll stop here for the moment. Now you have an insight in one of the most popular Swedish traditions! If you want to find out more about the Swedish way of celebrating Lucia, here is more about one of the reasons behind it and also another legend.
Except Lucia being a cozy tradition with Christmas songs being sung early in the morning, the fika (one of the best Swedish words – if you haven’t heard it before, I’ll explain it next time!) is awesome! The saffron buns, gingerbreads and mulled wine/julmust (Christmas soda) are a must! You usually have it for breakfast or directly after the Lucia performance. We were lucky enough to get a lot of it after the songs were sung!