Saint Lucy: from Sweden to Rome

santa-lucia

In Sweden, at dawn on December 13, thousands of little girls wearing white dresses, with lit candles in their hands and electric candle lights crowning their heads, light up the darkness of Swedish winter.

Processions are led by a little girl who dresses up like St. Lucy. She is followed by damsels and page boys who wear white dresses and a cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars. It is an charming moment: children sing traditional Christmas carols and light up obscurity with their candles. Lucy and her damsels offer saffron croissants and ginger biscuits to all the spectators.

This tradition dates back to the eighteenth century and visits churches, schools, hospitals and working places all over the country. In Sweden it would not be Christmas without St. Lucy’s day, that marks the road towards the last two weeks of Advent.

Saint Lucy’s procession also reaches prisons, retirement homes and other places where mobility is more challenging. This is the real meaning of Saint Lucy: people do not need to look for her, she always gets to them and brings light where darkness lies.

On this occasion, the Swedish Embassy in Italy, in cooperation with Visit Sweden and the Italian-Swedish Chamber of Commerce “Assosvezia”, for the seventh consecutive year, is bringing to Italy one of the most loved traditions of the Swedish calendar.

At 07:30 pm, Saint Lucy’s procession will be in Piazza di Pietra with glogg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (ginger cookies) tastings. On December 14 at 05:00 pm, Saint Lucy’s procession will get to The Central Library for Children, in Via San Paolo alla Regola. On December 15 at 03:30 pm, it will be at the IKEA store in the shopping centre “Porta di Roma”.

There are many theories on how the legend of Lucy, a Sicilian Saint of the fourth century, came to Sweden: legends say she had personally visited the country or that her story could have been brought by priests. Whatever the origin might be, Swedish people always show much love for Lucy “the bearer of light” and her celebration was officially introduced in the country in 1920.