Folk Beliefs
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Santa Lucia

The informant is a 19 year old student living in Utah. She has a rich background from Swedish family. I remembered her telling me when I was younger about this celebration and feeling jealous that she had two Christmas’s! She explains the holiday and why she feels it’s been an important part of her childhood.

  • Its called Santa Lucia, but a lot of people call it Saint Lucy, and basically it happens on the 13th of December, and its been celebrated throughout Scandinavia but since were Swedish we do a Swedish version so its a little bit different. So its a Swedish holiday kind of like Christmas but a separate holiday and basically it derives from the Saint Lucia and there was a legend that she would go to the poor early in the morning and she would bring them all gifts and food, and because it was so dark (because it was winter) she would wear a crown with candles on it and she would go and just bring food and presents to the poor in Sweden. So to celebrate that, every 13th of December, the daughter of a family, if they have one, will go and bring gifts to the family or around the neighborhood, and sometimes in schools they would do it too, electing one of the girls in school to be Saint Lucy and she would bring cookies. Actually there is a specific cookie called a Pepperkakoar kind of like a gingerbread cookie that we make and eat on Santa Lucia.
  • So my mom does that for us in the morning on the 13th and gets us all little gifts and makes us the cookies. And there is a special tradition with the cookies too, if you put it in the palm of your hand and you take your other hand and crack the cookie with your knuckle, and if it splits into three pieces then you get a wish, but any other pieces you don’t get a wish. And my mom taught us all how to do that and we would all do it together.
  • I remember one year we didn’t do it, and it was weird that we didn’t do it. Its something that I really love and reminds me of my childhood.

ANALYSIS:

I had never heard of this holiday before the informant, a childhood friend, told me about it. The part I found most interesting is that young women Sweden actually reenact and impersonate the “Saint Lucy”. It seems similar to the way in which other cultures would do the same with Saint Nick, yet I had never really given much thought to why people do this. I think that having people act as the Saint or figure behind legends and stories helps them to feel closer to the tradition and also helps keep it alive!

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