It’s a holiday celebrated by Scandinavians around the world, including here in Ballard. Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church hosted their 46th annual Luciatåg on Sunday, which featured an all-Swedish program with English translation.
Scandinavian tradition holds that in Värmland, Sweden, a white-clad maiden, wearing a crown of burning candies, brought food to the starving villagers on the shores of Lake Vänern. No one knows how long ago the tradition began, but it was so far back that the festival of Santa Lucia was marked by a notch on the primitive “primstav” (calendar stick), the precursor of the calendar. It later became customary in western Sweden to finish the threshing by Lucia Day so as to begin the cooking and baking for the long Christmas festivities. From its beginnings in Värmland, the customs in honor of Santa Lucia have spread throughout Sweden, and more recently to the rest of Scandinavia. Today, the festival is celebrated in schools, hospitals, businesses, and towns; each of which has its own Lucia Bride and festivities to mark the beginning of Christmas. Santa Lucia Day is also an international holiday, celebrated not only in Scandinavia, but also in Italy and France in the rites of the church.
After the service, many enjoyed Swedish goodies and dancing ’round the julgran. It was also a day to celebrate Inga Amann’s 90th birthday. (Thanks Tim for the photos!)