Sunday, December 11, 2011

Celebrate St. Lucia Day - Countdown to Christmas - Day 11

Each year (with the exception of last year when there was a huge snowfall and we couldn't get out of the driveway), the girls sing at the St. Lucia service at church.

Singing the St. Lucia Song
Sophia and Olivia singing in the children's choir.

According to the information from church, St. Lucia Day is the commemoration of a young woman from Syracuse, martyred for her Christian sympathies in A.D. 304. Before she was pierced by a soldier's sword, she miraculously withstood efforts to move her from the spot and burn her to death. The flames of the pyre encircled Lucia, but would not touch her.

The legend goes that at this time when Christianity was outlawed, she made a pilgrimage to a Christian holy place when her mother was ill. Her mother was cured and, in gratitude for the miracle, Lucia devoted her life to bringing hope to the hopeless, light to those "who lived in darkness" by sharing her wealth with the poor.

In Sweden, St. Lucia Day is December 13th, and marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Early in the morning, the eldest daughter in the house dresses in a white gown with a red sash and a crown of flickering candles. She wakes the household singing traditional music and serving coffe and Lucia buns (lussekatter). 

Swedish Treats for St. Lucia Day
Swedish treats for people to enjoy
in between services.

The days that follow are filled with feasting, merriment, singing, and the spirit of good will and friendlliness that lasts all through the holiday season.

The church celebrates this Swedish tradition of honoring St. Lucia on the Sunday closest to her feast day.  The celebration centers on the saint's message of bringing light and hope to a dark world.


Singing the Tomten Song
The children singing while the crown of candles
on "St. Lucia" shine brightly.

The first song that the children sing are when the teenage girl who wears the white dress and the crown of candles walks down the center aisle. The children follow and sing:

Into our hearts she walks, telling her story,
candles in shining crown, lighting her glory.
Symbol of love sublime, moving o'er space and time,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.

Now in the winter night ,Good folk are waiting.
See now the maid of light, darkness abating.
Into this winter night, come maid of shining light,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.

When on this earth she walked, bravely confessing,
All to the poor she gave, all felt her blessing.
Symbol of love sublime, moving o'er spacea nd time,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.


After singing at both services, the girls enjoyed lunch with the choir members and director and then had play practice for a couple of hours. The performances are Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

All the money raised is being donated to an organization that purchases animals and donates them to individuals and families in developing countries. The intention is that sustainable farms can be established which not only helps those receiving the animals, but their communities.


Crafty Cristy said...

Thank you for sharing this. I was not familiar with the story of St. Lucia. This was awesome!

What Remains Now said...

Very interesting. I always wondered what the crown of candles represented but never looked it up. Looks like a lovely celebration.