Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lucia 2012

This upcoming Saturday I’m participating in one of my favorite holiday traditions.
I attend a covenant church. The original founders of the covenant church were predominantly Swedes (this meant that when my family left the Christian Reformed church during my early elementary years (which is a historically Dutch church community) I left a church full of Van Ests, Vander Lars, and Boomsmas to go to a church dominated by Andersons, Petersons, Swansons, and  Larsons!) In the 70s, several families in my church decided to get together and start a new Christmas program and outreach that focused on the celebration of the church’s Swedish heritage – thus St. Lucia was born.
St. Lucia was a young girl who was martyred for her faith aroud 340 AD. The traditional story is that she brought food to the Roman Christians hiding in the catacombs and wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way and allow her hands to be free to carry the supplies. Today she is represented wearing a white dress (symbolizing purity) and a red sash (symbolizing her willingness to sacrifice her life for her faith).
The sanctuary all set up before the first breakfast - about 7:30 am

Every year on the first Saturday in December our church puts on 3 breakfasts open to the community. The first breakfast (which serves Swedish food) begins around 8 am and the remaining 2 are spaced about 2 hours apart. All of the pews are removed from our sanctuary and tables and Swedish decorations fill the space instead. One of my favorite parts of the celebration has always been that the entire church participates – from about 2/3 years old on up. Here are some examples:
Tomtar – “Little Elf” – the smallest children do a series of 4 dances around a Christmas tree in the center of the room. (This is absolutely adorable and was one of my favorite parts of participating in Lucia J)

Star Dancers – Older elementary children who also do a set of dances
Star Boys
Pepparkakor Girls – Sing and pass out cookies – the national Lucia in Sweden will often pass out Pepparkakor cookies (like ginger snaps) when she goes visiting
Lucia’s Court – high school girls
St. Lucia – typically whatever 12th grade girls are present rotate the role. The year I was Lucia the  church still put on 4 breakfasts and there was only one other senior girl participating so I was able to be Lucia twice. It really was one of my favorite Christmas memories – although walking around with a crown of candles was a little intimidating!
Annika was one of our Lucia's this year (and the best one!) and her sister Malin - our families are close friends and we have pics every year of the 3 of us girls since I was about 10.

The adults participate by – serving the breakfast, participating in the Chorus (who sings throughout the program), playing handbells, doing food preparation and clean up, and making up the orchestra.
This year I am playing the violin in our small 5-piece orchestra.
My brother (who did all the sound and lighting) and me

Some people might think the whole thing is pretty strange, especially when the majority of our church members are not Swedish, but I always loved the opportunity to participate in what felt like more of a historical Christmas program. I think there is also such a great connection in regards to the story of St. Lucia and her connection to the Christmas story. In fact, she is often referred to as the “bride of light.” I know that this tradition won’t last forever, but the lighting of candels in early winter always makes me think of Lucia and Christ lighting the way.
The front of the church where I played with the orchestra.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

1 comment:

  1. I love this tradition! We've celebrated St. Lucia Day for the past few years but have never really heard of anyone else who did...then again, Frederick was settled by Germans and there are few Swedes around here :)