Lucia is a holiday celebrated on the 13th of December mostly by Lutherans in Scandinavian countries. Most Swedish towns choose a Lucia girl, who represents Saint Lucia. The celebration usually takes place in schools and churches, where there is a procession, in which the Lucia girl wears a crown with candles and is followed by other people dressed up and holding a candle as well.
According to the traditional story, Saint Lucia was a devout Christian girl, who kept to her beliefs in spite of threat and difficulties. People were trying to burn her and to kill her with a spear for her beliefs, but they were unable to do anything. According to another story Lucia was helping persecuted Christians during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. She needed both of her hands free to bring them as much provision as possible, so she found a way to attach candles to her head to lighten her way, instead of caring them in her hands. This is where the candle crown comes from. The crown also represents the fact that people didn’t manage to burn her for her beliefs back then.
In the 14th century Lucia celebration date was also considered to be the longest and darkest night of the year. However, it was discovered later on that the longest night is actually on December 21st, 8 days later.
I have experienced Lucia celebration in two places. The first one was at the Pentecostal Church in Borlänge, which I usually attend. There was a very pleasant atmosphere and we got a chance to try glögg, the traditional Swedish Christmas drink, and the buns called ‘Lucia cats’. You can see part of the celebration in the video below:
The next day we went to the Adventure mine about half an hour from Borlänge. We had to go down many stairs, it was really deep, and then we saw a Lucia performance in the mine. The way back was the biggest challenge as we had to take all those stairs again to go up to the surface! In the video below there’s part of the performance in the mine: