Lucy, whose name means light, became very popular in Scandinavia because her feast day,December 13, was for many years the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice date changed to December 21with the Gregorian calendar reform in 1582). Her feast day became a symbol of the gradual return of the light during the very short and dark winter days. Even today, Lucy’s day is a festival of light that is kept in churches and homes.
In the home version, the children dress in white (symbol of Lucy’s purity) with a red sash (symbol of her martyrdom), and carrying candles and singing, bring freshly baked breakfast saffron buns to their parents. It used to be only the girls did this, but nowadays boys join in, wearing a star hat and also carrying candles.
You will also see St. Lucy observances in churches, schools, hospitals, care centers, and more. A procession of children and young people “bring in the light”, sing songs, including Sankta Lucia, and distribute saffron buns. The leader of the procession, “Lucia” has been chosen (it’s quite a competition) and wears a wreath crown with candles and everyone else follows carrying candles and stars.
– The Rev. Janne Alro Osborne, Associate Rector