Sankta Lucia! Saint Lucy.

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Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

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Feasting and celebrating begin on December 13 with Lucia Day, which legend says is the longest night of the year and a time when man and beast need extra nourishment. A Lucia (Queen of Light) is chosen and is dressed in a white gown with a crown of candles in her hair.  As she enters a room, she carries a tray with coffee, rolls, ginger biscuits, and occasionally “glogg” (a mulled wine).

A train of white-clad attendants or handmaidens accompany her. The girls wear glitter in their hair and carry candles. The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

The attendants deliver the food while they sing traditional Lucia carols.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme:

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

What’s your favorite tradition?

Many thanks to http://www.worldholidaytraditions.com

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