The Informant and I were driving while she told me these stories about her home town, San Francisco, and her family’s cultural history as being Norwegian American, so there was not much that I could observe of her actions, as she was at the wheel and I was behind her in the back seat. But she was very passionate about both stories, and eager to share her history as both a San Francisco Native and her family’s Norwegian background. This particular story, about the Santa Lucia Day festivities, was important to her because of her own memories of partaking in it, and how her family came together to help her prepare the meal that she was supposed to prepare on her own. She did not really like the festival part apart from cooking with her family, as she herself was not a good cook, and did not like being the center of attention.
Informant: I mean, we have. We all celebrate Santa Lucia Day.
Author: Tell me about that!
Informant: Santa Lucia Day is celebrated in a lot of European countries, and in Norway. Um. It’s to celebrate, you know, a Daughter’s Love for her Parents. So. Traditionally, the youngest daughter would get up really, really early in the morning before dawn, and make a big breakfast for her family, primarily her parents. Then traditionally, serve her parents breakfast in a white dress and a red sash, that’s how it is in our family, I don’t know if that’s how it is for everyone else. It’s been handed down from… [Trails off]
Author: And did you do this?
Informant: Um. I did it a couple times. But. Then they realized that I am not a good cook, so.
Author and Other Party: [Laughs]
Informant: They didn’t let me. And my sister would help me. My older sister and my twin brother would help.
Author: That’s nice!
Informant: The other thing was that traditionally it would be done with um. A Wreath of Candles. Around your head. But then they realized that’s a fire hazard so most of the people just use lights.
Other Party: Oh wait, I’ve heard of that festival. It’s um.
Informant: Yeah! It’s very, very celebrated.
Other Party: Yeah, Arthur the Aardvark talks about that.
Author: Oh yeah! I remember that. [Laughs]
Other Party: In “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas.”
Informant: Yeah, it’s always celebrated on December 14th.
The “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas” song about Santa Lucia can be found here and the original CD can be found here.