St.Lucia – Discover A Swedish Winter Tradition

On December 13th, all over Sweden, the day of St.Lucia is celebrated.  There are costumes, candles, lights, buns, drinks, and singing 🙂

So who is St.Lucia?

Along with the celebration of midsummer, the celebration of St.Lucia is a very popular cultural tradition here in Sweden. The idea behind this mythical character is that she has the role of bearing light in the long, cold, dark, winters.  St Lucia was originally a young Christian lady betrothed  to a pagan gentleman.  She cut off their engagement, and he was not too happy, so he made the Roman authorities aware she was a Christian.  Consequently she was sentenced to death and became a martyr, and the saint of light.

How to celebrate St.Lucia:

  1. Dress up: The children are dressed in white gowns, with red sashes, and a wreath of candles is placed upon their heads.  There is often great competition for the role of St.Lucia, and whilst a lot of costumes will now involve electric candles, the main St.Lucia of the celebration is still known to have real candles on her head in most places.  She is accompanied by her handmaidens (tärnor) who wear white gowns and have tinsel in their hair.  She is also accompanied by star boys (stjärngossar), who wear white robes, cone shaped hats, and carry golden stars on sticks.  The processions now often include tomtar (santa like elves) and gingerbread people.  My double trouble are going to be tomtar this year. 
  2. Food:  No celebration would be truly Swedish without having a special bun or cake made for the occassion!  On this day you eat lussekatter.  They are made with saffron, so have a peculiar flavour to them, but are very tasty. Also on offer are the pepparkakor (small thin ginger biscuits), all swallowed down with yet more glögg!  Or if you are a child, the incredibly sweet drink of Julmust, or maybe just a coffee if you are driving.
  3. Sing Songs:  Most of these songs have a similar theme about the dark and about candles, but singing is a big part of the celebration.

We will be enjoying a little St.Lucia celebration in my twins’ class one evening around this time as they sing us some songs.  They are going to be a couple of tomtar 🙂  Comment and let me know your thoughts on this Swedish tradition and if you’ve enjoyed reading about it below.  Don’t forget to share the post to let others know!

St.Lucia Discover a winter Swedish tradition, St.Lucia, Sweden culture, Swedish traditions, Swedish celebrations,

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  1. Not heard of this St Lucia tradition but thanks for educating me and your boys look lovely. I would love to see it in person one day
    Anosa recently posted…48-HRS in Rome: 5 Must Visit places!My Profile

  2. That’s really interesting I had never heard of St Lucia!
    Mrs Mary Ann Abbott recently posted…Snow, you are a jerkMy Profile

  3. I love the Swedish way of doing things and so always love to see anything about a Swedish Christmas – this post really captures the essence of it all!

  4. This sounds like a lovely tradition. I actually bought some pepparkakor and glogg from Ikea. Now I know what it’s for!
    Justine Robson recently posted…Diary of a One year Old pt.2My Profile

    • Ooooo every day in December is the day for glögg and peppakakor!! You’ll have to see my post on 15 things I’ve learnt living here to see what I’m talking about 😉 Enjoy them!

  5. This is so lovely. I really do love reading and learning about different saint days and what traditions come with them. I’d never heard of St. Lucia before so thanks for enlightening me – no pun intended! 🙂

  6. I haven’t heard of this tradition either but how lovely! I wish we did that!

  7. What a lovely tradition, I love their outfits!

  8. Happy ST LUCIA DAY! I love the Christmas onesies too, do they come in an adult size too?
    Ana De- Jesus recently posted…Stand Up For Animals With International Animal Rights DayMy Profile

    • Ah thankyou!! They are sooooo cosy and ever so soft, and like all the best mini sized things, nope they don’t come in grown up sizes 🙁

  9. I love the sound of the lussekatter with saffron and a coffee! Yum!

  10. Oh wow what a lovely tradition . I never heard of St Lucia before 🙂
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  11. This is a lovely celebration to take party in, I love how Sweden always celebrates with food too!!
    Stephanie recently posted…Kids Christmas Gifts Under £20My Profile

  12. Me neither. I haven’t heard of it. But it seems a little exciting knowing that it’s like a prelude to Christmas with all the traditional wear, pastries and wine.
    Lauretta At Home and Horizon recently posted…January Snapped Up Linky: Shopping hauls & product reviews!My Profile

  13. Wow, I’d not heard of St. Lucia before – but what a sad, horrible story! Poor woman. I hope she approves of all the festivities in her honour though – although, not sure I’d want to put real candles anywhere near my hair, just in case!

    • I know, poor thing. The candles are in a lot of children’s hair here all over Sweden on this day, although I think a lot are swapped now for the battery operated ones, but it is still normal to have the candles (my daughter’s school has one girl with candles)

  14. Sounds like a lovely tradition. I am kicking myself for not picking up one of those cute Santa’s figures

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