Monday, December 21, 2015

Swedish Christmas traditions part 1

The annual candlelit Lucia procession on 13 December is perhaps one of the more exotic-looking Swedish customs,with girls and boys clad in white full-length gowns singing songs togeher.Among the youngest,anyone can be Lucia :as the children get older competition will harden.The Lucia celebrations also include ginger snaps and sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter) shaped like curled-up cats and with raisin eyes. You eat them with glögg or coffee. 

The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. Thus the name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions. 

The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 1900s, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbarcustom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns (lussekatter) dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.

 In recent times of questioning gender roles .the question of why Lucia can not be male has turned up causing some controversy. A male Lucia hovever may not be entirely new.
This Lucia from 1875 on apicture found at the Kulturen museum in Lund clearly shows a male Lucia. A student named  Johan Albert Heribert Brag 1856-1926 (later newspaper editor).
Here is a link to a recipe of Saffron buns often served at Lucia.

In 2012 the Lucia showed in TV was a black girl which caused a minor uproar since the Lucia has traditionally been supposed to be blond. so some people thought it unsuitable with a darkskinned Lucia since she is supposed to be a bringer of light and joy .. And swedish TV recieved a lot of racist comments.

Since nobody knows the exact skin and hair coulour of St Lucia of Syracuse I think a darkskinned Lucia is OK .However St Lucia of Sicily was clearly female.

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