Some of you asked me to describe an old-fashioned Swedish Christmas. -- Here is Part 1 of my attempt to do so.
Advent, Santa Lucia, the Christmas Market
The Advent Calendar, with all its little windows to be opened one for each day leading up to Christmas, was part of the excitement. In
, it is also a custom to hang a golden star, made of paper with tiny holes and with a light bulb inside, in a window on the first Sunday in Advent. Sweden in December is a dark place with few hours of daylight and I remember how lovely it was to see all the stars shining bright in the windows of the city. Stockholm
Today, December 13, Santa Lucia is celebrated all over
. This is a very special time, reminding people who live in this cold, dark, place that there is light in the world and celebrating this light. Sweden
According to tradition, the eldest daughter in the family, wearing a crown of candles, brings coffee and Lucia buns (lussekatter) to her parents in bed. Yes, that's me as Santa Lucia with a crown of real candles on my head! (I did have a wet napkin on my hair, underneath the crown.) The girl and her court of younger siblings sing the old Italian song, Santa Lucia, in a translation that celebrates light coming to this dark season. This tradition continues in Swedish homes today, but with battery operated candles, I'm sure.
Each community crowns their Queen of Light, their Santa Lucia, and in
there is a parade in the evening, ending in City Hall. Stockholm
The original Santa Lucia was a Sicilian woman, who became a saint. She is always presented with light in some fashion in art and literature. How she came to represent the Queen of Light in far removed
is a legend too long to tell here. Sweden
When I was a child in