The Lucia Celebration (in Swedish: “Luciadagen”) is a typical Swedish celebration of the light. It’s held on the 13th of December, which is the names day of the holy Lucia (Lucia of Syracuse). The celebration originated in the Middle Ages in an area called Västergötland in Sweden. From there on out it has spread to the rest of Sweden and even to neighbouring Scandinavian countries.
In Sweden, it marks the beginning of Christmas time. This old tradition contains elements of the pre-Christian midwinter festival. In early times, the 13th of December was equal to the midwinter night. Through calendar instructions, the shortest day of the year gets looked past all of the time, but the date of the celebration does not. It is still celebrated on the 13th of December to this day.
Now, what does this tradition mean?
The tradition says that early in the morning of the 13th of December, girls and boys dressed in white clothing and red sashes with candles on their heads wake all the family members and bring them food. While doing this they sing traditional Lucia songs. It is also a tradition that every village or area in town chooses their own Lucia for that year. During this celebration, it is common to eat traditional Lussebullar (saffron rolls) and Pepparkaka (gingerbread). To warm up the inner person, one drinks Glögg. This is a kind of warm wine with nice spices and herbs. This can be white or red and they even have alcohol-free options for children and youngsters.
As said before, this celebration is also being held in several Scandinavian countries. Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland also have very nice traditions for the celebration of the day of light. Also, countries like Italy and Croatia celebrate the holy Lucia, although in a different form. Believe it or not but this celebration is also being held in the Netherlands. A village called Beek has a tradition of celebrating Lucia every year.