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A Glimpse of Light Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in Traditions

Svart senker natten seg
I stall og stuer.
Solen har gått sin vei,
Skyggene truer.

Inn i vårt mørke hus
Stiger med tente lys
Sancta Lucia, Sancta Lucia …

Black the night descends
in stables and rooms.
The sun has gone away,
the shadows menace.

Into our dark house
Rises with lighted candles
Sait Lucia, Saint Lucia…

This is the beginning of a song that has been sung by barn (children) all over Norway today. It is Luciadag (Lucy’s Day), and even though it’s December the 13th, it hasn’t really anything to do with jul (Christmas)…

On Luciadagen, children in skoler (schools) and barnehager (kindergartens) – and even in some private hjem homes – dress up in white garments. With lighted stearinlys (stearin candles) in their hands, they form a beautiful procession while they walk and sing. One of the children, most often a jente (girl), wears a wreath with four candles on her head. She’s called the Luciabrud (Lucy bride), and is the leader of the procession.

The tradition of Luciadag has spread to Norway from its neighbour Sweden. Originally it is a Catholic celebration of Lucia, a woman in Sicily who became a martyr when she was killed around the year 300. (Maybe you’ve heard about a Caribbean country called Saint Lucia, it’s also got its name after her.)

Today, the Luciadag has lost its religious meaning to most people. It is rather like a glimpse of light in the darkest time of the year. (Remember that in Northern Norway, there is no daylight at all during the winter months…) It is also a nice opportunity for kids to carry a candle and eat lots of delicious lussekatter (Lucy cats), which are small yellow saffron buns that are baked especially for this day.

A Students’ choir perfoming Luciasangen (the Lucy song).

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


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