Christmas around the world, December 13, Finland, Helsinki, Lucia, Lucia's Day, lussekatt, Norway, Norwegian Christmas customs, Santa Lucia, St. Lucy, Stockholm, Sweden, Swedish Christmas music, Swedish christmas songs, Swedish Christmas traditions
Today is December 13th ,which means that it’s Saint Lucia’s Day in the Swedish-speaking parts of the Nordic countries! (Finland, like Canada, has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish). What I love about this day is that it is celebrated to bring light into the darkness of winter, which is surely needed when it is this cold and dark outside! (Here in Toronto it’s -8 at the moment)
Lucia’s Day usually consists of a mass, and a parade with the elected Lucia, wearing a crown of candles. She is followed by a choir of girls with white gowns and red belts (to symbolize the blood of the original Lucia) holding candles, and boys with stars to symbolize the star of Betlehem and the three wise men. But the day is also combination of older traditions that precede Christianity. The 13th of December was traditionally believed to be the longest night of the year, which meant that all sorts of evil things were out to get you; witches, trolls and all that! These stories, combined with the tale of Saint Lucia bringing light into the dark catacombs, fighting the dark, was something that people took to heart and so Lucia’s Day is celebrated in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark as a day of light before the approaching Christmas festivities.
Here are a couple of clips from the Lucia mass and celebrations, first from Stockholm’s Storkyrka, the main cathedral in Stockholm.
“The” song for Lucia is an old Italian song, which most of you will probably know as not a Christmas song. The original words to the song have nothing to do with Christmas or even winter, but the Swedish and Finnish lyrics are all about snow and glistening stars! (When I was 19, I was one of the choir girls in a smaller Lucia celebration like this one! I can’t believe it was over ten years ago!)
This is clip shows Helsinki’s Lucia from last year, filmed in the main cathedral in Helsinki (you can also see the main building of University of Helsinki to her left when is she walking down the cathedral stairs).
And last but not least, here’s a clip of a Lucia celebration from Norway, with some local Norwegian Christmas customs as well. Happy Lucia Day, lots of light and warmth to every house and home!