USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘santa lucia’
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Santa Lucia Candle Crowns on Christmas

Main Piece
Put that down, that on Christmas eve, Santa Lucia, L-U-C-I-A: Girls would wear real candles in their hair on Church service on Christmas eve, in a crown. It was really annoying because the wax would melt into the hair, and you always thought your hair was going light on fire.
I’m not sure what exactly it stemmed from – I know it is an old Swedish tradition. I don’t just remember why – people didn’t ask, people didn’t care, but we did it. There is definitely a reason behind it, but we definitely forgot it.

Background
The informant had grown up in a religious home, and made note of the different traditions she saw over the course of her life. She took part in this tradition, and therefore can talk about her experience. This occurrence was during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and she is unsure if they are still continuing the tradition, although she believes that they are.

Context
The informant who provided this information is a 52-year-old Caucasian women, born and raised in Southern California. The information was collected while sitting outside her home in Palm Desert, California, on the 20th of April, 2019.

Analysis
This tradition is really interesting to me, due to the fact that I never personally experienced this tradition. Being raised in the same religious way as the informant, I would have expected to have seen this tradition, yet I have not. I do think that it seems like a dangerous tradition, and I am glad to not have taken part in it or seen it thus far. I believe that the tradition relates back to Saint Lucy and her martyrdom, using candles to light her way bringing food to hidden Christians in the 3rd century. I find it interesting however, that the informant does not know what the tradition actually represents, but they still continued practicing it. I think this may be due to the idea that the tradition is representing the religion in a way, and although even if not known the exact reason, the commemoration of the religion is enough for the informant.

For another version of this tradition, please see Florence Ekstrand’s 1998 Lucia, Child of Light (Welcome Press).

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Santa Lucia/Swedish Christmas Traditions

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as PG. I am marked as DG.

 

PG: Every Christmas on like, I think it was December 6th something like that, the uhh the daughter in the house would put on a ring of candles on her head and bring in breakfast to the mom, and it was Santa Lucia day, which frankly I didn’t know much about, but we did it every Christmas. It was a Swedish tradition, and I learned it from my mom. Another one is we opened our presents the night before Christmas. She swore it was a tradition! She might have just been impatient. And every year I try to get you guys to do it but you always say no (laughs).

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting on a patio in Glendora, CA. The sun is setting and a group of us are sitting around all sharing folklore. The context for the tradition is that these are to be performed in the house of the family. The Santa Lucia one is performed in the morning, by the daughter, and the gift tradition was performed in the living room.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee is a 53-year-old father of two, who is married. He grew up in Los Angeles, before moving around, and finally ending up back in Los Angeles. He was raised by his mother alone, who is from Sweden. He comes from a religious background.

 

Analysis:

 

This is a tradition from Sweden. I find it interesting because although the interviewee’s mother is from Sweden, PG was born in America, so his only experience with Swedish traditions has been the same few that have been carried over by his mother from Sweden. These are not traditions that have been passed down to his children, showing the power of region for folklore. These traditions are fascinating because they are strictly part of the Swedish culture–it’s not like a more popular folklore item that is seen in most places by most cultures.

 

For another version of the Saint Lucia tradition, see Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker (2014).

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