A Very Swedish Christmas – part 2
Ho ho ho! A very Swedish Christmas part 1
By December 13 it is time for one of my favourite dates on the Swedish calendar, St Lucia’s Day.
This is the day appointed for Lucia, the Italian patron saint of light, to arrive at dawn and spread some Mediterranean cheer into the deep darkness of the Nordic winter. Her arrival is to remind everyone that the warmer months are just around the corner.
In my former former office, as in many across Sweden, a traditional St Lucia ceremony/breakfast is held. It runs like this: The girl with the longest and blondest hair is proclaimed Lucia for the day and puts on a long white dress with a red ribbon tied around her waist. She also wears a crown made of evergreen leaves, red berries and candles and she holds another candle in her hand. Lucia leads a procession of unfortunate dark-haired girls, who occupy the far less glamorous ceremonial role of back-up singers to the resident alpha blonde.
The procession makes merry, singing traditional songs including, somewhat predictably, Sancta Lucia. Then everybody sings. Then everyone cries. Then everyone makes merry with a meal of ginger biscuits, special Lucia buns and strong, hot coffee.
During my first Lucia ceremony, I spent most of the time eyeing off the biscuits and coffee and pondering questions such as “Who is Lucia?” and “Why are her buns so tasty?” as well as “Hey, why do the blonde chicks always get to play the role of a presumably dark-haired Italian?”
So after the tissues have been handed out and the tears have dried, I ask my Swedish friends Sven, Gustav, Sven and Sven, if they know the source of Lucia’s rituals and her inherent hairiest tendencies. The Svens and Gustav come back blank. Under the watchful eye of the office blonde, no one seems willing to talk – though I do find out that it is the saffron that makes her buns so tasty.
What’s your favourite Xmas treat?
[Photos courtesy of http://www.imagebank.sweden.se]
Heehee. But I was the smallest and blondest with long hair at my infant school, and I was picked to play Mary in the nativity. The next year aged six I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t playing her again – hadn’t I done a good job the previous year? But a younger blonde had been chosen – and it wasn’t even a man who was doing the choosing!
!!!!! a blonde Mary, and a younger one. Typical 🙂
I was always Lucia when I was younger. At school, at hospitals, at workplaces, at kindergarten – you name it! That stopped in the 6th grade when I got my braces on the teeth’s and the spec’s for my eyes… ha ha! It’s very sexist but yet not in a way – hard to describe when you are a swede “and this is just the way it is” – without reflecting on it! Love your Swede blog btw! Miss you! / Petra
I could image you as a sweet Lucia Petra! I miss you too!!!!!!!!!
I’m mystified by the grown-up dress ups, but you got me with the buns and the strong coffee. I could go some Nordic light festival refreshments right about now.
oohh some Nordic refreshments, I’ll have some for you, sorted!
Fascinating! Who knew? Certainly not this Yank. I’m left wondering if ABBA plays any role in St. Lucia Day.
P.S. My favorite Christmas treat are my grandma’s Heman cookies made with oatmeal, coconut and butterscotch chips.
O send that recipe right here baby, 3 of my most fav things combined!
please send Lucia over to Toronto because we DEFINITELY need warmer weather up in here!
OMG, it must be cold there then!
That’s hilarious. Particularly like the crying for unknown reasons. My favourite Christmas treat? It used to be one of those Darrell Lea chocolate Xmas puds.
OMG Darrell Lea chocolate, I love it, do they still have it now??
That’s hilarious! What if someone died their hair for a day or wore a wig?!
I’d don a wig for the gig!
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Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom
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The description of this holiday and its celebration in real life sound so “out there” to be true. They really make the blondest gal dress and be Lucia? Crazy! But those buns look good!
Oh it’s true my dear friend.