Happy Lucia Day! I’m finally getting into the holiday spirit after attending the Lucia procession at a church in Maryland over the weekend. It’s a tradition for me and really when I feel that Christmas is here (watch the national performance from Sweden).

The Lucia celebrations is one of the deepest rooted traditions in Sweden and carries clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old, darkness and light, cold and warmth. Lucia brings the light in the dark Swedish winters and the first recorded appeareance of a white-clas Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764, and the current tradition of having a white-dressed woman with candles in her hair appearing on the morning of the Lucia day started in the late 18th century and spread slowly to other parts of the country during the 19th century.

So who is Lucia? The ledgend goes that she was burned at the stakes because she refused to marry the one she was promised to and gave away all the wedding gifts and what her family gave her to the poor. 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, and the red silk belt she wears symbolize the blood.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme of that she brings the light into the cold and dark Sweden.

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

World Market, a fun store that has furniture, decorations and also a large food section saved my Christmas! They have expanded the Swedish food they offer, it used to be only Glogg and Gingercookies but now includes cookies and candies – including my favorite of all time: Kexchocklad! YUM! So happy!