Image Credit: Christina Zetterberg
Saint Lucia Day or Saint Lucy's Day - is celebrated on the 13th December each year. It is celebrated in many European countries, but is most popular in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
It is also the national day on the Carribean island of St. Lucia and festivities take place anywhere that there is a Scandinavian community, especially in the United States.
As Saint Lucia Day falls in wintertime in Europe, it is celebrated as a festival of light, and was probably a pagan festival that was adopted as a Christian celebration.
In the Julian calendar, the 13th December was also the longest day, however when the Gregorian calender was established, December 13th became the festival of lights.
Saint Lucia was a Christian martyr who was reputed to have been the daughter of a wealthy Roman family in Sicily. She was a devout Christian who was devoted to helping the poor, and so she is the patron saint of the poor.
The legend is told that she was helping Christians who were hiding in catacombs, and wanting to have both hands free to carry supplies, she put candles into a crown so that she would still be able to see her way. This is why she is symbolised with a candle crown upon her head, and came to be associated with light.
Image Credit: David Nelson
In the Scandanavian countries, the traditional way to celebrate St. Lucia Day is to select one girl from each town or village who will represent St. Lucia in a procession around the town.
She will wear a white dress with a red sash and on her head wear a crown of candles, then she will lead a procession of women who will also traditionally wear white dresses.
Boys can also take part in the procession and celebrations. Boys will dress up as "star boys" who represent Saint Stephen who was the first Christian martyr. They also wear white robes and a pointed hat covered in gold stars.
The boys can then accompany St. Lucia and her female companions in the procession.
Celebrations may take place in schools, offices, care homes and nurseries. Church services are held on 13th December, where carols about St. Lucia are sung, along with Christmas Carols.
Image Credit: Åsa K
Another important way that St. Lucia Day is celebrated is by baking "Lussekatter" or Lucia Buns which are a type of bun flavoured with saffron and containing raisins which are eaten for breakfast.
You can find a recipe for Lussekatter at Lavendar and Lovage.
It is also traditional to eat gingerbread on St. Lucia Day, particularly in the form of gingerbread men. Both these tasty treats may be served with mulled wine or coffee.
If you want to celebrate St. Lucia Day yourself, here are some more ideas of things to do.
If you would like to make a Saint Lucia Day crown for younger children, one that does not need real candles, this tutorial shows you how to make one out of felt.
Use these printables to make your own stand up St. Lucia or a star boy, They can also be coloured in before you assemble them.
Alternatively you can make this lovely paper candle crown. This tutorial also includes instructions for making a star boy hat.
These Saint Lucia Day printables include colouring pictures, a song, complete the drawing and how to make a paper crown.
This set of printables is aimed at teachers and homeschoolers and include lots of educational activities for St Lucia Day.
Here is a fun free printable St. Lucia Day wordsearch, filled with words about this special day.
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