Top Photo: Lucia Celebration, Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se
Bottom Photo: Kirsten’s Surprise by Janet Shaw
St Lucia’s Day is observed on December 13. It is most strongly linked to Scandinavia, but also celebrated in other areas.
St Lucia (Lucy) was a Sicilian Christian Martyr who was killed when she refused to marry a pagan. The Scandinavian festival links St Lucy’s feast day with Lussinatta, a Norse pagan holiday associated with darkness and witchcraft.
In Modern Scandinavia, St Lucia’s Day is celebrated with a pageant. Swedish cities and schools appoint a Lucia who wears a wreath of candles. Others take part in the procession dressed as angels, star boys, or candle bearers.
Lucia processions can also take place at home, with the older daughter donning a candle wreath, singing songs and serving her parents a breakfast of sweet pastries. This tradition is depicted in the bottom photo, Kirsten’s Surprise, about a fictional Swedish immigrant in 1850s Minnesota.