Traditions

13 DECEMBER

Lucia / Christmas Carols

Join us for a night of Lucia celebration at Fika Manly on Sunday 12 December from 6pm. Sip on mulled wine, enjoy freshly baked saffron buns and get some Christmas shopping done while waiting for the Lucia allsång aka Christmas carol singalong at around 8pm. 

So why do Swedes dress up in white long gowns and carry candles in their hands while singing melancholic songs? For a non-Swede it can look like a ghost gathering but that’s’ far from the truth. Lucia is a peaceful tradition about spreading light, warmth and love. It is literally the highlight of the year.

By Caroline Brandelius  

 

THE SAINT FROM ITALY
Swedish Lucia tradition is believed to have originated from Italy. Lucia was a Saint who lived in Syracuse, Sicily. She was burned at the stake after her husband found out she was Christian, which in year 304, was forbidden in the Catholic Empire of Rome. She was known for giving food and aid to the poor people of Sicily using a candle-lit wreath to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. Her name Lucia comes from the Latin word “lux” which means light. 

In the old calendar the 13th of December was the darkest and coldest night of the year and also the same date Lucia died. People of the Middle Ages believed that night was full with vicious power and Lucia was the light in the dark to protect them. 

MODERN LUCIA CELEBRATIONS
Today Lucia is still a strong light in the dark. On Lucia Day the 13th of December it is common to participate in or go and watch a Lucia concert with people dressed in white long gowns with candles in their hair and hands singing beautiful Christmas carols. Many schools and day-cares arrange a Lucia concert for their families to come and watch early in the morning. Even young siblings might wake up their parents with a Lucia concert. Nationwide you can watch the big Lucia concert live on Swedish National Television (SVT) and enjoy a long breakfast with coffee, gingerbread and saffron buns on Lucia day. 

THE SWEDISH GENDER EQUALITY
Lucia’s gender and physical appearance is a hot topic in modern times. Swedes think a lot about gender and always want to include everyone, if he is a she, or she a he, or does it really matter at all? So there is much discussion about whether Lucia is a he or a she, blond or dark hair and what skin colour does “hen” have? It has even gone so far that some Swedish schools don’t have Lucia concerts anymore to avoid racism and gender discrimination. The tradition awakes a lot of opinions and strong feelings which also indicates how alive this 400 year old Lucia tradition still is and how it is constantly evolving.   

COME AND CELEBRATE LUCIA AT FIKA
If you have never ever have seen a Lucia concert it’s time to do so. And if you’re a true Lucia fan, we are delighted to tell you that we've been celebrating Lucia at Fika on the 13th of December since 2013. It is a very popular event with around 200 people showing up every year. Hope to see you at Fika Manly this year!