Tag Archives: Swedish tradition

Swedish Folk Costumes


Folkdräkt – Swedish Attire that depicts family history


Informant: “Folkdräkt is a dress outfit for women and Busserull shirt and trouser set for men. It represents where an individual’s family comes from, or in many cases, like my siblings and I, the garment is passed from generation to generation. My Folkdräkt is from Mora, Sweden in Dalarna County. Each Folkdräkt from each family has its own distinct patters and garment styles. They are a result of the family’s history, and their certain ties with perhaps specific flowers that can be depicted in Folkdräkt. It is not rare for Folkdräkt within the same region to look very similar, for they are often influenced by geographic elements and resources. Folkdräkt is often worn at weddings and festivals, or any event that may include Hambo. Typically children are the ones performing for adults, but the reverse can also be true.


Folkdräkt is a dress attire within Sweden that can be used to trace a family’s lineage, or geographical origins. As a folk costume, it is powerful since it’s a physical tie between the individual and their extended history. Nordic countries are known for having a rich, strong sense of folk, that extends from their weaponization of folk to protect themselves since they are smaller countries. Here we can see that this concept may not only occur on the national level, but can be applied to individual families as well. Families within Sweden use Folkdräkt as a catalyst to be able to distinguish themselves from other families. This comes from a desire to be able to define your legacy from others, within a stream of millions of legacies. It is also interesting that Folkdräkt quite literally translates to folk attire, with “dräkt” meaning suit or attire, and folk being an english cognate.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Swedish Ritual of Saint Lucia

When I was younger I would dress up in a white dress and a crown with candles in celebration of Saint Lucia at my school. I would give out candy and sing to my friends and classmates because that was the tradition back in Sweden. This ritual is usually done at around Christmas time and usually done as a family. My grandma first taught me about Santa Lucia and bought me my white dress at 7 and I partook in the ritual of handing out candy until I was 12.

Both of the informants parents, though American born, are very Swedish with native born Swedish parents. My friend grew up just outside of Oklahoma City and she recalls her grandma always wanting to teach her about Swedish culture when she visited from Stockholm. Her grandma really emphasized the event, which I understand due to the fact that it often coincides with the winter solstice. I’ve learned from class that Scandinavians and other northern peoples in Ireland and Scotland all celebrate such events due to the fact that these yearly events greatly influence their lives due to the short appearance of the sun.

The informant later explained to me that though girls usually partook in the traditional ritual of dressing up and handing out goodies that men would sometimes hand out treats as well. Her grandma carefully explained to her that following the ritual each year would help one survive the long winter days without enough light. For my friend, she was always self-conscious about partaking in the ritual because she was always the only one to dress up in school. She recalls her parents forcing her the first couple years to celebrate it because they said it was part of their heritage. She is now happy that they did so because now feels closer to her Swedish relatives and it gives them something to talk about.

I learned about this ritual from the informant after asking her if she ever partook in events when she visited her Swedish relatives over spring break. It was enjoyable to hear more about her Swedish family and their traditions because my family, due to how many generations they’ve lived in America, doesn’t have such European rituals.