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The Scandinavian Christmas tradition: Santa Lucia Explained

The Scandinavian Christmas tradition that somehow touches me the most every year is ‘Santa Lucia,’ or ‘Saint Lucy’s day,’ which is today, December 13.
13 December, Scandinavia Christmas, Lucia Day.
Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/
On this day you will find processions in schools, churches, nursing homes, etc. of girls (boys as well), dressed in long gowns, walking with candles  in their hands while singing a very beautiful – almost meditative – Swedish carol. The first one in the procession, the Lucia bride, is wearing a crown of candles on her head. When I was a kid they were real lit candles.  Nowadays,  I mostly see electrical lights being used, for safety reasons obviously, and they still look magnificent.
The word Lucia can be traced back to the latin word “lux,” meaning “light”.  The celebration of Saint Lucy’s Day helps one live the winter days with enough light, it is believed.
In Sweden, people have celebrated the night  of  Lucia since the 16th-18th centuries. The custom of Lucia processions, where young girls carry candles and sing, is not that old, however. It established itself in the1900s. 
Scandinavian Christmas candle and teallights
Scandinavian candle and teallights are a must in December
Lucia is originally a very Swedish Christmas tradition. But nowadays on this day Lucia is celebrated in all of the Nordic countries. As such it has spread to become a Scandinavian Christmas tradition. 
Here you can see and listen to the procession in the cathedral of Uppsala (in Sweden) from last year. 

Lucia, the bringer of light and joy, has been affectionately depicted in artwork by renowned Swedish artists such as Carl Larsson. While she often carries a tray filled with traditionally Swedish treats like gingerbread biscuits (In Sweden known as ‘Pepperkakor’, included in the latest Norlii Box)  and saffron buns – known as ‘Lussekatt’ to Swedes – Lucia in my mind is best honoured through sipping on sweet cups of glögg (mulled wine) adorned with almonds and raisins. Enjoying this treat outside the weeks leading up to Christmas might be considered sacrilege by many!

Swedish Lussekatter (Lucia Bread). Soft, slightly sweet buns made with saffron and decorated with raisins - true Scandinavian Christmas magic
Norlii Box December 2022: Stockholm in December
Norlii Box December 2022: Stockholm in December

Norlii provides the perfect way to curate a home that reflects Scandinavian and Swedish design. Our bimonthly subscription box offers stylish, unique items for your space – making it cozy, harmonious and exciting with six new arrivals every year! All boxes are curated based on a theme and for December box 2022 it is Stockholm in December.

 Have a great Scandinavian Christmas month and a great Lucia Day today!