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Swedish Lucia


Lucia is celebrated on the 13th of December.  Originally the day was dedicated to St. Lucia of Syracuse, but the Swedish holiday seems to have little to do with her person.  According to folk tradition, this date marked the longest night of the year - an artifact of the medieval calendar.  It was thus a time when Man and beast needed extra nourishment.  Originally, only men celebrated this festival, with much food and drink.  Documents from the late eighteenth century, however, tell of young girls, dressed in white with crowns of candles in their hair, serving the master and mistress.  This ceremony has since spread, not least through the activities of clubs and mass voluntary organizations.  When, in the 1920s, a Stockholm newspaper arranged a contest to choose a Lucia-girl to represent the city, the custom spread like wildfire.
Lucia morning is celebrated in practically every Swedish home, and every community, office, school or club chooses a Lucia, who - dressed in a white gown and with a crown of candles in her hair - brings a tray of coffee, traditionally shaped saffron rolls, and ginger biscuits.  Lucia sometimes serves glögg, a mulled wine.  She is generally accompanied by a train of white-clad attendants, the girls wearing glitter in their hair and the boys wearing tall paper cones with stars on them.  All sing the traditional Lucia carols.
Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X
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