Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Saint Lucy's Day

In Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway we celebrate Saint Lucy's Day - or Lucia - on December 13th. This day is observed in a few other countries, but in Scandinavia we celebrate this day with "Lucia trains". A Lucia train consists of a Lucia - a girl with a crown of candles in her hair - and her following maids - usually wearing glitter or wreaths in their hair, holding candles. Boys in the form of "stjärngossar" ("star boys"), ginger men and nissar (Santa's little helpers in Sweden) also participates sometimes. Wearing white robes, these Lucia trains sings Christmas - and Lucia songs, sometimes offering lucia buns (saffron buns) and ginger bread biscuits to the audience.

Saint Lucy herself is believed to have been a Sicilian who suffered a martyr's death in Syracuse, Sicily, around AD 310. The traditional celebration in Scandinavia though has a lot of pre-Christian elements in it, like the struggle between light and dark, where Lucia is the light bringer who comes during this very dark time of the year up here in the north. The Nordic observation of this day first occurred in the middle ages, but the modern tradition is around 200 years old.


The choosing of a Lucia has also become a tradition. A lot of towns have their own competitions. And since this is a vintage blog, let's take a look at some of Stockholm's Lucias of the past.

Ingegerd Hägg, 1942

Marianne Hylén, 1948

Britta Nordling, 1953
Marianne Lestander, 1959

Ingrid Engström, 1960

As you can see a pretty, blond girl usually wins the title. It's also good if she can sing, since this is part of her job. In my family we usually get up early in the morning to see the Lucia train that airs every year on TV. We light candles in the darkness, make hot chocolate with whipped cream, and eat Lucia buns and ginger bread biscuits for breakfast. A very cosy tradition that puts at least me into the Christmas spirit!


  1. I'd never heard of Saint Lucy's day so this post is extremely educational for me, have an excellent one!

  2. Så koselig! Jeg lagde lussekatter til en tilstelning her i LA forrige helg! De gjorde suksess! Lucia-feiringen er det koseligste med førjulstiden!

  3. Yeamie: This is one of the coziest traditions of the year - at least according to me! :)

    Helene: Älskar Lucia, det är så stämningsfullt! Va kul med lussekatterna i LA! Det är bra att vi undervisar de okunniga i våra traditioner ;)

  4. Ingegerd Hägg,Lucia in 1942 was my grandmother!

  5. Ingegerd Hägg, Lucia 1942 var min mormor, var mycket stolt över att ha varit Lucia, Hon dog i mars 2011.
    Det är trevligt att se att det fortfarande finns de som är intresserade av tradition startade för många år sedan.

    1. Vad kul! Jag har alltid älskat Lucia - en av årets mysigaste dagar enligt mej! Brukar alltid gå upp i ottan och äta lussebullar, pepparkakor och varm choklad med vispgrädde till frukost då, samtidigt som jag tittar på luciatåget på TV - med många ljus tända i rummet där jag sitter...DIn mormor var en väldigt vacker Lucia. Älskar ljuskronan hon har på bilden! Tråkigt att höra att hon inte längre finns i livet dock... <3


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