Sankta Lucia Day Is Coming

This Saturday at Ingebretsen’s we will be celebrating Lucia Day (a little early, the official day is December 13). Enjoy Christmas music, pepparkakor, and coffee served by the SvenskarnasDag Girls Choir.

We have a post on the legend and history of Lucia Day that you can find here. But there is always a little bit more to any story including traditions.

In the old almanac, Lucia Night was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. Even better, people, it was said, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. That’s a lot of breakfast.

The last person to rise the morning after Lucia Night was nicknamed ‘Lusse the Louse’ and often given a playful beating round the legs with birch twigs. A good reason not to sleep in. In agrarian Sweden, young people would dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) on Lucia Night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the celebrations of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns (lussekatter) dates back to the 1880s. You can find a recipe for Lussekatter (Lucia Buns) here. Recipe For Lucia Buns

White Gowns, Stars And Candles

The real candles once used are now often battery-powered, but there is still a special atmosphere when the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing grows as they enter from an adjacent room.

Lucia Crown

Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear ‘light in her hair,’ which in practice means a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle, too. The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

Lucia − The Bearer Of Light

Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth. Lucia, an ancient mythical figure, takes on the role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

All Swedes know the standard Lucia song by heart, and everyone can sing it, in or out of tune. You can hear a wonder rendition here:

The English words are:

Night walks with a heavy step
Round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth,
Shadows are brooding.
There in our dark house,
Walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent,
Now hear its gentle wings,
In every room so hushed,
Whispering like wings.
Look, at our threshold stands,
White-clad with light in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Darkness shall take flight soon,
From earth’s valleys.
So she speaks a
Wonderful Word to us:
A new day will rise again
From the rosy sky…
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

You can find many Sankta Lucia items at our store and online. Check these out.