Today, December 13, Santa Lucia is celebrated all over Sweden. 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.
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 Stockholm there is a parade in the evening, ending in City Hall.
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 Sweden is a legend too long to tell here.