The feast of Santa Lucia or St. Lucy is celebrated in Sweden, and more and more here in the United States, on December 13th.
In the very early morning a young girl dresses in a flowing white gown and a bright red sash. Her head is adorned with a crown of twigs and lit candles. In Sweden, the young lady would travel on foot from farm to farm. She brought baked goods to each home she visited and her journey was always complete by dawn.
Every town and village in Sweden has its own Lucia, and of course, it was always quite an honor to be chosen.
The baked goods the Lucia (or Lucia Bride as she is also called) brings with her is Lussekattoror (Saffron buns).
Symbolically, the candles are meant to represent light (good) overcoming dark (evil). Historically Santa Lucia was said to be condemned to death, by fire. The flame did not harm Lucia, sparing her life - though briefly. She was later beheaded.
In addition to the saffron buns Nordic glogg is served. This is a heated red wine with various spices such as cinnamon and cloves. It also has raisins, sugar and often almonds.
Here in Cleveland The Swedish-America Vasa organization presented it's annual program honoring Santa Lucia on Saturday, December 15th at the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.
There was a procession with Lucia and her attendants, who all then joined in traditional songs sung in Swedish. The Vasa Voices, a choral group, also sang a number of Swedish songs.
Note: The name Vasa refers to Swedish American groups across the country. The name comes from a warship built in Sweden for King Gustavas Adolphus.
Click the play button above to watch a short video of the Lucia and other children marching and singing Santa Lucia at the Cleveland Swedish celebration December 15, 2007