When my sisters and I read Kirsten’s Surprise (an American Girls story about a pioneer girl from Sweden), we were inspired to recreate the Swedish tradition of Santa Lucia Day.
Santa Lucia Day, also called St. Lucy’s Day, is on December 13. It celebrates the legend of Saint Lucy bringing food to persecuted Christians in the catacombs during the 3rd century. Legend says that she carried candles in a wreath on her head, so that she could see while keeping her hands free to bring provisions. Because it used to be celebrated on the shortest day of the year, Santa Lucia Day has become a festival of lights. In Scandinavia, girls dress in white dresses with a white sash, with a wreath of candles on their heads. They carry food and sing songs to wake up the household in the early morning of December 13th.
Inspired by Kirsten’s story, my sisters and I plotted and planned to celebrate Santa Lucia Day. We convinced our mother to make simple white dresses, bought red satin ribbons, made hot cross buns, and struggled to figure out a way to construct a safe candle wreath for our heads. We never did figure out how to attach the candles, and ended up just making wreaths for our heads, and carried candles on a tray with the hot cross buns. We had a lovely time, surprising our family for a couple years until we decided to let it be a lovely memory. As we walked through the house in our white dresses for the last time, long hair flowing under our wreaths, singing Christmas songs to wake our parents and brothers, my sister, Mimi, managed to set her hair on fire! It only lasted a moment, and we were able to quickly put it out, but it was such a scary experience, we all decided to retire our tradition of celebrating Christ’s light conquering the darkness.
If you are not deterred by our tale of caution, you can learn more about Santa Lucia Day in Maria Von Trapp’s book, Around The Year With the Trapp Family (a family favorite). And, of course, girls would enjoy Kirsten’s Surprise from American Girls. I would recommend serving Cherry Christmas with your hot cross buns. And don’t forget to check out the holiday photo shoot!
Happy Santa Lucia Day from our family to yours!