December 13 is Saint Lucia day.
The Christian martyr of Syracuse killed in the reign of Diocletian is linked to a major Swedish traditions.
Lucia remembers the Light and this is probably why the saint is venerated by the Catholic and the Lutheran church in Sweden.
The light in December in Sweden, as in whole Scandinavia, lasts very little during the day and the celebration is a way to ask for the gift of light.
Every December 13, in Sweden, from the early morning, concerts are held in the churches of the major cities, and every year the girl who is elected “Lucia of Sweden” may participate, in Syracuse, to the procession haeding to the Cathedral.
After many years of traveling to Sweden, in every season and every month of the year, finally I had the good fortune of being in Goteborg on December 13.
You can imagine my excitement to know that I would live the day of Saint Lucia in a country where this tradition is still very present.
Even before breakfast TV showed the concert of Saint Lucia from the Uppsala Cathedral and that year, with the pleasant surprise of many, Lucia was of Indian origin. The children’s choir was really a sight to goosebumps.
During the procession, Lucia walks in front of everyone and two rows of girls dressed in white and with her hair adorned with green leaves and red ribbons follow her singing the traditional song of Saint Lucia (Luciasången); nothing but the classic Neapolitan song Saint Lucia with text in Swedish.
Even in schools and offices people gather to sing the song of Saint Lucia and eat Lussekatter (literally Lucia Cats), the saffron buns with raisins.
In the evening, however, the tradition is to participate to the concert in one of the churches in the city.
The style of the concert is the same as what you see on television in the morning, but I assure you, watch it live is really very, very impressive.
Watch the procession of Saint Lucia and her bridesmaids is creepy: imagine the church completely darkened and these girls that come from the bottom of the nave. Saint Lucia with candles on his head and the other girls in tow with candles in hand singing the song of Saint Lucia “a cappella”.
And then the whole concert focusing on the typical songs, including one on gingerbread men dancing wittily.
My suggestion is to experience at least once the 13th of December in Sweden: you will not be disappointed at all