Finland – Santa Lucia’s Day
Last Tuesday, 13th Dec was Santa Lucia’s day and for the first time, I had the opportunity to see how they celebrate it! This is a swedish-finish tradition of when Sweden had more influence in the country.
For the Swedish, this day is one of the biggest celebrations they have and every year they choose one girl from their community to represent the Saint. This year, they chose Ingrid Holm, an 18-year-old girl that has also represented Santa Lucia in Turku in 2013 and now became Finland Lucia 2016! That is how important the tradition is to the families!
Checking a bit of history, I discovered that for the Christians Santa Lucia was an Italian rich girl who was martyred and killed for keeping her faith in the year 304. For the Catholics, she is the protector of the eyes! For the Swedish, Lucia was the first wife of Adam that consorted with the devil, Lucifer. It is also a mystical figure that brings light to the long dark winters, because before the Gregorian calendar reform, the winter solstice was at Santa Lucia day.
The coronation was very beautiful. They set up a screen in the square in front of the Helsinki’s Cathedral so everyone could participate and they even broadcasted live to all the country. We could not go in the church, but we could see everything from the square! The ceremony consisted on readings – which were all in Swedish and of course, I did not understand anything – and they sang several songs too! I could just recognize one, even in Swedish because it was Hallellujah!
The chosen girl wore a candle wreath during all times and from what I could see, she had real candles during the ceremony at the church. The other girls only held one candle each in their hands. After the coronation, Lucia 2016 went out in a carriage through the streets of Helsinki to greet everybody that was waiting to see her! I noticed that she changed the candle wreath before going out and replaced it by a plastic one (ufa..that was much better right haha!). There were many children and families on the street and all followed the march!
The city was so full of people that can you believe it that I got lost in the crowd? Hahaha My intention was to tell you how it was to walk throw the streets behind the carriage, but since I lost the march, I decided to go back to the Christmas market and have a Glögi (a type of hot wine) to warm up!
It was very nice to see how they keep the traditions and pass it on through generations! There were several children dressed in as Santa Claus as well that stood on the steps of the church to greet the new Lucia! Other girls and even little children wore their crowns of candles in the streets!
And if you are curious to see more about how the coronation was, check out this link! You can watch the full ceremony they broadcasted! Have a look and tell me if you do not also think that she had real candles in the church? I confess I was a bit tense with this and I guess she was too, because she barely moved during the ceremony hehe!
* Slider photo by: www.hbl.fi