Sankta Lucia by Annika Perry – Day 13 Advent 2017

Sankta Lucia by Annika Perry

Day 13 Advent 2017

HAPPY LUCIA

TODAY in Sweden nearly every home, school, hospital, factory, workplace, church, hotel and restaurant is celebrating LUCIA.

Lucia is the Bringer of Light and is celebrated on what, in the old almanac, was the darkest day of the year. The day is one of light, hope and love. The tradition has its roots in St. Lucia of Syracuse who died as a martyr in AD304.

Whilst the dark holds its firm grip on night, households across the country waken and quietly prepare. The long white gowns will have been carefully ironed the day before, the red sash belts laid out, candles and matches placed at the ready.

Lucia herself carries a crown of candles on her head. These are often now battery powered but not too long ago normal wax candles were used. The crown was placed on a damp handkerchief on the head. As the wax melted onto the damp fabric, a sizzling sound could be heard by those closest.

As well as Lucia there are her attendants, tärnor, who are dressed in white gowns with a silver glitter circle on their heads and carrying a lit candle.

In the later years a place was also made for boys, mainly as Star boys, stjärngossar, wearing a white gown, a pointed conic hat with a star and carrying a silver star stave. Recently younger boys are also dressed as gingerbread men.

The hushed bustle of the waiting crowd falls to stillness and into the darkness comes Lucia and her train, the glittering light from the candles heralding her visit, traditional songs sending a dusting of heaven across the darkness.

At this point both men and women are tear-eyed.

As the Lucia train approaches the songs ring light and clear. One is ‘Sankta Lucia’, which is the song that epitomises Lucia. Its evocative tones weave their way into my soul. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this.

Here is the translation of the first verse:

‘The darkness lies weightily
on fields and cottages
in places forgotten by the sun
the shadows brood.
Into our dark homes She steps
with lighted candles on her head
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.’

The spirits continue to soar as Lucia and her attendants come to a halt, either at the front of a larger gathering or if at a home in front of the rest of the family.

Now other festive songs lilt their way across the break of morning, the star boys even having their own solo performance. The mystical magical aura shimmers in the candlelight, spreading across the nation.

Being Sweden no festive occasion would be complete without its own traditional fare. Particular for this day are Lussekatter (Lucia Kitten Buns), which are made with saffron. Also on offer are pepparkakor, cinnamon/ginger biscuits. Although many in Sweden now buy theirs. To drink there is either coffee, milk or for the more daring a cup of julglögg. Please, join me today, on this special Lucia day for a cup of coffee or glögg. Help yourself to Pepparkakor. Enjoy the song below whilst you nibble away. Happy Lucia to you all!

This was originally posted on Annika’s Blog on the 13th of December 2015, find the original, with pictures here.

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Discovering Traditions: May 1st and the Making of the Wreath by M.L.Kappa

Discovering Tradition

Today, is the first of May, a day that is widely celebrated and that has various traditions attached to it. I am happy to have M. L. Kappa as my special guest for Discovering Traditions. You can find a list of all guest post that have appeared on my blog so far here, and you can find the previous guest post for Discovering Traditions here.

May 1st and the Making of the Wreath by M.L.Kappa

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May Wreath by M.L.Kappa

One of the most fun Greek traditions is the making of the May Wreath. We call it Μάης (pronounced Màïs).

May 1st is universally known as Labor Day since 1886, when the Chicago Syndicates rebelled, asking for better working conditions. But celebrating it is not actually a 19th century tradition—it has roots in Antiquity, when festivities were held in honor of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Dionysus, god of grapes and wine.
Their purpose was to celebrate the fertility of the fields, the bounty of the land, the flowering of nature and the end of winter.
This tradition in various forms then spread throughout Byzantium and the rest of Europe. Continue reading “Discovering Traditions: May 1st and the Making of the Wreath by M.L.Kappa”