Tuesday, December 13, 2011

santa lucia.

Night walks with heavy tread
round farm and byre,
dark sun-forsaken earth
shadows attire.
Then in our winter gloom
candlelight fills the room:
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

 Silent and dark the night
now hear descending
rustle of wings in flight,
all darkness ending.
Then she comes, dressed in white,
head wreathed in candles bright:
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Shadows will soon be gone
from earth’s dark valley
wonderful words anon
us cheer and rally.
Day will soon dawn anew
in skies of rosy hue:
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Today is the 13th of December. In Sweden, my place of origin, the streets are filled with candlelight as girls dressed in white follow one with a wreath of candles upon her head. It is Santa Lucia whom this leader impersonates, for it is the Day of she who saved the Swedish people.

The name 'Lucia' is pronounced LOO-SEE-UH in Sweden, and LOO-CHEE-UH in Italy, where it originates. It shares a root (luc) with the Latin word Lux, which means 'light.' The name itself means 'giver of light.'

There is much legend regarding Santa {saint, regarded as such by the Catholics}Lucia, but the basic story is that she was an Italian maiden, born in Sicily, and one who died a martyr's death because she would not marry a pagan man. She fed Christians hiding in the catacombs of Sweden long ago, and carried bread to them by the light of a candled wreath upon her head.

File:Lucia procession.jpg

Today, Santa Lucia Day is celebrated by Scandinavians all over the world, and traditionally the eldest daughter in a family is crowned "Lucia Queen," and leads her siblings, dressed in white gowns and red sashes, in providing breakfast for her parents. Pepperkaker cookies and Saffron Buns are served.

In our family, we used to dress up in the outfits, make our Saffron Buns, and go out to various nursing homes and relatives in our community, sing the traditional 'Lucia Song' (lyrics above), and pass out our goodies. Now, we have somewhat "grown out" of that, :) but it is a fun memory to have and to look back on. I love my Scandinavian heritage (I am 50% Norwegian and 50% Swedish), and hope to someday try out for the Lucia Queen at a local Scan Fair.  It is always fun to surprise Swedes with the fact that my actual name is Lucia. ;)

..In the meantime, you have learned some history, and a bit more about my rather unique name.

Happy Santa Lucia day to all! Even if you have just now heard of it. ;)


  1. my sister and i used to do this. even though i was the oldest, we would trade off every year because she would get pouty if she didn't get to wear the wreath. but it was our thing until we were about fifteen or sixteen. my parents are Swedish, and even though we're adopted, we picked up a lot of their traditions.

  2. Oh how fun! I remember reading about this in the "Kirsten" series {the American Girl ones) forever ago! I think I even had the doll dress that goes to it. :)
    Libbi H.

  3. It's great to learn a little bit more about the tradition! The only way I have known about it was from reading the American Girl Kirsten books, but since then I have always thought it was a very pretty tradition.

  4. The story behind the celebration sounds really inspiring, Lucia! And it is was interesting to know that you're half Norwegian and half Swedish ;).

    I found that part of the name 'Lucia' so delightful to read, and I'm glad I now know how to pronounce it! Did I tell you before that in the book I'm writing my protagonist' daughter is called Lucia and they story is set in Ancient Rome? I never knew what it meant until discovering it from you :).

    Lucia, I would love if you could sometime visit my blog: http://joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com/ That would really make my day!

  5. Oh, that's interesting! I've heard of the holiday but I didn't know that much about it until now.

  6. oh, I remember reading the American Girl, Kirsten book, when they were celebrating this. It is very unique.

  7. oh thank you for the backstory, lucia! i remember reading about it in an American Girl book (Kirsten, I think) and now i know what it's all about :)

  8. Cool post! I have always loved hearing about this holiday, as I am also part swedish. How cool to be named after a brave girl like that!


  9. I haven't learned anything! ( I am proud to say) I love the tradition, and even though I am not Swedish, I read it in a book a long time ago when I was little, and wanted to try it. (My mom made me a wreath that had no "lightable" candles on it ;D) It was fun, I brought breakfast to my mom and dadd that morning!!! :) She made me a night gown a while back, and I wore that, and tied a ribbon around my waist. I loved every moment of it :D

  10. Actually I am quite familiar with this holiday due to becoming obsessed with Kirsten from American Girl.

    I read a few books on this tradition! :)

  11. cool!
    I love swedish people...the names and especially there accents! :)

  12. Sounds so fun!! I read the Kirsten series to my little sister last year... I remember them celebrating Santa Lucia :) Sounds like a neat tradition :)

  13. WIsh we did that here!

    I first heard about that holiday from the American Girl Kirsten books!! :P

  14. That's so cool! My family is Polish and Dutch... and Cherokee, Italian, Portuguese, and Irish. Shheeesh, I'm a mut! ♥

  15. We just learned about this in Italian class yesterday, and I thought of you :) what a great family tradition!

  16. This is the first time of heard of it... Where have I been all my life?? :) It sounds like a delightful holiday. :) Happy Santa Lucia day, Lucia! Though... I'd be slightly terrified if I was wearing lit candles on my head, heh.. ;)

    -Grace {thatsmilingblog.blogspot.com, I'm doing a series of Christmas DIY posts, I did one, and will do another tomorrow!}

  17. someone recently mentioned this to me.. my daughter's name is Lucy. they figured i'd know all about Lucia..well, now i do. what a beautiful tradition! :)

  18. that holiday seems so cool!
    i read the american girl Kristen series when i was younger, and she was swedish. one whole book is about them doing this holiday for the first time in America


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