Tuesday, December 13, 2011

‘V’ for Vision of Light – St Lucy’s Day

2011-12-13 LuciaCIMG6172-1

Like a vision of light, St Lucy – Lucia – appears on our doorstep in the early morning of 13th December; once upon a time believed to be the darkest night of the year. Lucia represents the victory of light over darkness.

Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned. The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia; --- the various Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. Each Scandinavian country has lyrics in their native tongues. After finishing this song, the procession sings Christmas carols or more songs about Lucia.

Our modern day visits from St Lucia have their roots in various traditions of the past. The veneration of  St Lucia here in Scandinavia may have been introduced as a counterweight to the superstitious fear of a vicious “Lussi” creature supposed to haunt this night of the year in old times.

It was particularly dangerous to be out during Lussi Night. Children who had done mischief had to take special care, since Lussi could come down through the chimney and take them away --- The tradition to stay awake through the night to guard oneself and the household against evil, has found a modern form through throwing parties until daybreak.

Read more in Wikipedia: St Lucy’s Day

The modern tradition with public Lucia elections and processions in the cities started in Stockholm in 1927 and spread from there. Today most cities in Sweden appoint their own Lucia. Voting is often part of the election process. Lucia and her maidens will visit shopping malls, old people's homes and churches etc during December; often also collecting money for charity.

The pictures in this post are from Swedish television this morning (photographed by me from the TV screen).

ABC Wednesday

10 comments:

  1. A very interesting VARIATION on the solstice theme.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  2. What a lovely take on the letter V, much better than the superstitious ones about today being the 13th...

    V is for verdigris

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  3. I have never heard of the Lussie creature! Is this a modern times thing? Are there pictures? Or is he left to the imagination? I like your Santa post below, the magic table is a good idea!

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  4. I love learning more about my Swedish heritage. Unfortunately as a child I never celebrated any of the traditional Scandinavian things except occasionally on Christmas Eve my Mother would cook Lutfisk. Oh my did it smell up our house. We finally gave up doing that. (:0)

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  5. still learning all kinds of things from your post each day. this is all very interesting info. Lussie sounds like a santa in reverse

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  6. Ginny - The earliest notes of a celebration resembling modern 'Lucia' celebrations are from the mid 18th century. The evil Lussi is an older tradition. The Swedish Wiki article says it was probably a personification of the long dark night itself. In some parts of the country it was seen as female (witch or demon) and in other parts male. I've not seen pictures. Never heard of it myself before Google and Wiki and blogging...

    Sandra - Half of it I didn't know myself (or had forgotten) until I looked it up! And the more I read the more I'm amazed at what a mess our traditions are. And I don't mean just my own country, it's all a mix from different countries.

    Photowannabe - Some traditions are not worth holding on to. Lutfisk in my opinion is one of them! ;) (we never had it in my family because my parents didn't like it either) (it is a way of preparing dried fish from the days when that was the only way of making food keep for a long time)

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  7. I should have read this before your Advent Calendar.

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  8. It's such an interesting tradition and one I'm sure many look forward to every year!

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  9. I have never heard of this tradition before. I seem to learn something new each week on ABC Wednesdays.

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