December 13: Lucia celebrations in Sweden


On December 13 we celebrate Lucia in Sweden Then, in the wee hours of the morning, young people knock on doors of family and friends, and wake them up with a song, hot coffee and Lussebullar (saffron buns recipe here), as in Carl Larson's painting below. (The two young ladies in the 1919 photo above are Anna Bylander & Kerstin Johansson.)

One theory claims that the Lucia celebration evolved from old Swedish traditions of star boys and white-dressed angels singing Christmas carols at different events during Advent and Christmas. The current tradition of having a white-dressed woman with candles in her hair appearing on the morning of the Lucia day, December 13, started in the late 18th century and spread slowly to other parts of the country during the 19th century. (Wikipedia)

Above: In the Lucia procession in the home, depicted by Carl Larsson in 1908, the oldest daughter brings coffee and St. Lucia buns to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter wears the candle-wreath. (Wikipedia)

Lucia use to scare the living daylight out of the Nobel Prize Winners and their families, while still in Sweden after the festivities. Nowadays the laureats are asked in advance if they want to be woken up by a singing Lucia and her entourage. Why miss out on an old Swedish tradition? Most of them say yes. 

If you are still curious what this Lucia tradition is all about, check out the beautiful video below, filmed some years ago at painter Anders Zorn's studio in Mora:

(This post is a repost from last year.)