Santa Lucia

Oden December 13th

Traditions in Sweden

The Oden is a Swedish icebreaker with a Swedish crew and traditions. Today’s dinner was very special. Swedish crewmembers and scientists had dressed up and came with candles into the mess deck to celebrate Santa Lucia and sing her song. Eva Groenlund shared the story with us:

"We celebrate Lucia day on December the 13th. The day was named after a young girl living in a small village in Syracuse, Sicily. Lucia became a martyr in the 4th century AD, because of her Christian faith. Lucia was engaged to a man who was not of the Christian faith. He became angry on with her since she gave money to poor families. Lucia was sentenced to die by fire, but the fire did not harm Lucia. So they took her life by a sword instead (i.e. the red belt).

In Sweden we started to celebrate Lucia in the 19th century. Early in the morning on December 13th Lucia and her friends comes to visit. They are all dressed in white. Lucia has a crown of light in her hair and a red belt around her waist. Lucia walks first, followed by a group of girls that we call "Tärnor". They are dressed like Lucia but they do not have a crown of light in their hair or wear the red belt. Following behind the girls are a group of boys which we call "Stjärngossar". They are also dressed in white, but on their heads they wear a funny hat.

Lucia and her friends visit churches, schools, pre-schools, shops, and hospitals. Lucia has many songs that she sings, and read some poems. They also offer a hot cup of coffee, gingerbread, and saffran breads to give as a gift. Saffran bread is this yellow bread formed as an eight shown in the line below.

There is not a single girl that has not dreamed about being the Lucia of at their school. Sweden has an official Lucia every year. People from all parts of Sweden vote for a girl to represent Lucia, then every town, school, and church has their own Lucia.”

Eva Groenlund (Expedition Leader)

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