A holiday in the Nordic countries on December 13th, Lucia Day has been celebrated for hundreds years and is greatly looked forward to during the chilly autumn months. Read ahead to learn more about how this holiday is enjoyed.
Lucia Day is celebrated throughout Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway. The holiday involves a procession of boys and girls dressed in white gowns and singing together. It is said that this day rings in the beginning of the cold, winter season.
Old folklore tells that Lucia had “light in her hair,” and nowadays, a young Lucia wears candles in her fern crown, and she is surrounded by other children dressed in white gowns and carrying lanterns. Each year, a new ‘Lucia’ girl is chosen in every town and competitions are hosted to determine the winning ‘Lucia’ girl – some of them have even gone on to become Miss Sweden!
Throughout Scandinavia, the cultural significance of the bearer of light represents life and peace, helping to block out the darkness and cold of winter. In northern Europe, the average temperature in December and January is around 21 °F (−6 °C), with only 5 hours of sunlight. In northernmost areas, the sun never rises above the horizon for almost 2 months. Therefore, Lucia Day is looked forward to because it provides a sense of hope, as she is known to the bearer of brightness.
The origins of the holiday can be traced to ancient times, mainly in regards to St. Lucia of Syracuse, as well as from Lucia Night being the longest day of the year. In order to prevent illness and starvation in the winter time, a feasting of sorts had marked the day to help to ensure nourishment as the cold season began.
Nowadays, people throughout Scandinavia celebrate Lucia Day and indulge in gingersnaps, saffron buns, mulled wine, and coffee – known as fika. Stockholm was the first city to officially celebrated Lucia in 1927, and the custom of serving coffee and buns has become a tradition ever since.
Celebrate Lucia Day at home with Swedish coffee and gingersnaps from our online shop!