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Lucia celebration in Tällberg, Dalarna

Midsummer and Christmas Eve are well known traditions in Sweden, but the Lucia tradition is of equal importance in Swedish culture. Every year, a Lucia celebration is selected for broadcast on national television. This year, viewers will be heading to Tällberg, in the heart of Dalarna, which has been chosen for the broadcast of the Lucia procession.

Lucia is celebrated on the 13th of December every year. It’s an evocative event with children and adults in white robes, carrying candles, singing, and enjoying Christmas treats. But what is the Lucia celebration all about?
Lucia Day, also known as Saint Lucy’s day, goes all the way back to the 4th century. It’s a Christian holiday celebrating (according to legends) the martyr, Lucia of Syracuse, who took food to Christians who were hiding in the Roman catacombs and lit her way with a wreath of candles around her head.

13th December was the shortest day of the old Julian calendar and, according to Swedish folklore, the long night was dangerous. Evil spirits were even stronger then. Staying awake was of the utmost importance, and eating helped with this. This is also the link to the small parties that take place in connection with the ‘modern’ Lucia celebrations. 1764, was the first documented appearance of Lucia celebrations, but it was only in the 20th century that the tradition really became established.

Lucia procession
Lucia is celebrated with what’s known as a ‘Lucia procession’ where Lucia is followed by handmaidens, star boys (‘stjärngossar’) and gingerbread men (‘pepparkaksgubbar’). Children also dress up as Santa’s elves. Lucia wears a crown or a wreath of candles, either real ones or battery-powered.
There are snacks that go with the celebration, too, of course. People usually eat saffron buns, known as ‘lussekatter’, with mulled wine to wash them down.

Lucia in Tällberg, Dalarna
Every year, a place in Sweden is chosen to have their Lucia celebration recorded by SVT (Swedish Television). On the morning of 13th December, it will be broadcast on TV and a large proportion of the population of Sweden will get together in front of their televisions. This year, the recording took place in Tällberg, on a beautiful location by the Siljan lake.
Lucia is also celebrated in beautiful churches, church halls, schools, and retirement homes around Dalarna.
The Lucia celebration in Tällberg will be broadcast on public service on SVT and SVT Play on the morning of Monday 13th December at 7 AM and again at 6:30 PM and 8 PM. It will be possible to see the Lucia celebration in Tällberg on this link.