Love is not visible to the eyes but to the soul - Shakespeare

Monday, 13 December 2010

Santa Lucia - Saint Lucy

Wanted to share a little light and pictures from the Santa Lucia processions in honour of the saint Lucia.
Lucia derives from Lux meaning Light in Latin, henceforth caring candles in darkness. The day is according to the old Julian calendar the longest day with the longest night of the year and marks literally the return of light. This night was called Lussenat, and in the 18th century people in West-Sweden would stay up all night in darkness waiting for the maidens of the farms came with breakfast and light in the morning.
This grew in the 19th C. to include a girl dressed in white with a wreath and candles in her hair carying sweets and present.Today, these two traditions are interrelated to the Lucia who brings "lusseboller" (saphran buns) together with her stary girls and boys while singing the Lucia songs. I read that the Nobel Prize winners are wakened in the morning by this tradition, how cute is that!? 
I also found out that the processions started in Sweden as a beauty pageant! In 1927 the Italiy-born journalist Guido Valentin started it as a regular beauty pageant in Stockholm, and now the grand winner in Sweden gets to go to Syracus (the town of Saint Lucy's). When it had spread to Copenhagen in the 40s during the Occupation the winner was crowned Lucia-bride and it was part of a resistance act to the German Occupation, and light symbolics were widely popular those years.
The song is an old sailor song from 19th century Naeples which salutes the town of Santa Lucia.
You probably best know it performed by Elvis Presley or Dean Martin but here's the grand finale in Stockholm by all the Lucia choirs. So pretty... 

I really like this tradition, even though I'm not that religious in any way, I like the notion of helping the poor and bringing light where darkness reigns. Perhaps its also very sutable for Scandinavia since its so dark most of the time in this season, so we celebrate the returning of light. I read somewhere that this is also the reason why Christmas is celebrated in the Winter in stead of Summer, since the Vikings already had a big celebration in honour of the returning of light at that time, and it was easier to substitute that in stead of moving it. But I'm not sure, but it seems likely to me.  
Today, the tradition has spread throughout Denmark too, and basically every parish and school and whatever has a Santa Lucia procession. I once was the Lucia bride, today they are mostly elected by the choir leader or teacher, and I got to walk around with a pretty white gown and candles in my hair. I suspect I got the job because I didn't ask for it like all the other girls did. However, when I got home I realised I had candle wax in my hair and what do I do? I cut my bangs off! It wasn't pretty I can tell you that, but I had been the Lucia bride and that was all that mattered...

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