With 11 days until Christmas Eve, we have reached one of the most popular Christmas traditions in Sweden: Lucia. A tradition filled with candles, music, and sweets! Many of us might share similar memories of constructing our own Lucia performance at home or participating in a ‘Lucia Train’ at school — the itching tinsel around our foreheads, the desperately twisting of the electric candle, and the careful tiptoeing down the dark hallway while singing ‘Natten går tunga fjät…’
However, some of us might celebrate Lucia for the very first time this December 13th. EDIT has therefore collected some quick and basic facts about the tradition (disclaimer: there are tons of more ‘in depth’ stories and information online about the tradition – this is a quick and basic recap). With that said, here is the who, what, when, why, and where (Lucia Edition).
The Origins of Lucia
According to folklore — Lucia was a woman who lived in Sicily, Italy, around the end of the year 200. Christians were at this time forced to hide since Christianity was strictly forbidden. Lucia helped the hiding christians by delivering food to them — a humanitarian gesture that became her death. The Romans captured Lucia and tried killing her by burning her alive, but the flames did not touch Lucia. Although Lucia survived the flames — the Romans did not give up and ultimately killed Lucia with a sword on December 13. Lucia later became a Saint since she died for her faith.
The crown of candles that are seen today on people that portray Lucia, symbolizes the candles that Lucia allegedly wore on her head while delivering food — that way she was able to carry food with both hands. The red ribbon however, symbolizes the blood from when Lucia was killed.
The Swedish celebration of Lucia
On the 13th of December — towns, churches, and schools all around Sweden become filled with light and song through something called ‘Lucia Trains’. The Lucia Train contains one Lucia, accompanied by a couple of handmaids (tärnor), star-boys (stjärngossar), and gingerbread men (pepparkaksgubbar). The Lucia Train enters the location with song and light — singing ‘Sankta Lucia’ and sharing light through the crown of candles on Lucia’s head and the candles held by the handmaidens. Thereafter, songs are sung for an hour or two — and it is time to relax and enjoy.
There are a couple of Lucia Trains around Jönköping, one at our very own University! (OBS: if you missed the one at JU, no worries! JU’s Lucia Train are performing again at 7pm in Sofiakyrkan). You can find more information about the JU Lucia Train at:
With that said — EDIT wishes you the best Lucia day!
Writer: Vilma Bovin