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Lucia – a very Swedish tradition from Italy

Every year on December 13th many tourists visiting Sweden get very surprised. The reason for this is that early in the morning, a girl (usually) all dressed in white and with a crown of candles in her hair will enter the house singing songs. She is accompanied by a group of girls and boys also dressed in white. The girls usually have glitter in their hair, and the boys wear a “cone” on their heads. After their singing (beautiful, but actually quite strange songs, if you interpret the lyrics), they offer some “Christmas fika” with saffron buns.

Lucia first mentioned in 1764

Does this Lucia celebration sound a bit strange? Well, from an outside perspective, it might, but this is a tradition that has been celebrated in Sweden since 1764. Or at least this is the first time she was mentioned. In Stockholm, she appeared at Skansen for the first time in 1893.

Originally Lucia is a saint within the Catholic Church from Syracuse in Italy. Lucia was born about 283, and she died of martyrdom in 304. Lucia was supposed to be killed by fire, but – according to legend – she survived the flames completely unscathed. She was instead killed with a sword. The Swedish tradition of celebrating Lucia does not have much to do with the history. Sweden is today one of the few countries to celebrate Lucia, but it is a tradition which will not disappear in a long time. There are many Lucia celebrations throughout Sweden on December 13th, every year: in schools, at offices, in churches etc.

One reason why this tradition is popular might be that Lucia comes with light. This is one of the darkest periods of the year in Sweden and therefore light is very much welcomed.

Lucia will be celebrated in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, Lucia will be celebrated a few days early this year. On December 7th, you can experience Lucia and all the traditional songs in St. John’s Cathedral at 4 pm. Make sure to arrive in good time since the church will be full. Lucia will also visit Swedish Christmas at Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday, Dec 14th, at noon and 2 pm.

Lucia celebration in Kungsholmen church in Stockholm. This has been broadcasted on Swedish Television SVT

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