Lucia - a crossover tradition
The origins of this peculiar festival in the winter darkness has nothing to do with the Italian saint St Lucia. Strange as it may seem, Lucia is a manifestation of a quite different medieval saint, Nicholas. When the Reformation came to Northern Europe, the adoration of saints was prohibited, but some of them, especially Nicholas, the generous patron saint of schoolchildren, were not easy to do without. So the Germans replaced the bearded saint and bishop with the Christ child and transferred the distribution of gifts from the feast of St Nicholas, on 6th December, to Christmas.
During the 17th and 18th centuries the Christ child, represented by a girl dressed in white linen tunic and with a candle wreath in her hair, played this part and the tradition spread to the western parts of Sweden. Here the day for the feast was transferred to the 13th December which was regarded as the longest night in the year, and the Christ child was called Lucia - Lucia being connected to lux, the latin for light. In the beginning of the 19th century Lucia became known elsewhere in Sweden and the earlies record of a Lucia celebration at Skansen is dated 1893.
Today the Lucia-tradition connects to the Italian saint at last when the chosen Lucia and part of her retinue travels to Syracuse for a visit on Sicily and in Rome for a series of performances.
Lucia has been celebrated at Skansen since 1893. A reporter wrote in an article that at the Bollnäs farmstead "... you can see Lucia herself, a beautiful lady in a white gown with red ribbons and on her head a crown with six burning candles."
Contemporary Lucia traditions
Every year a Lucia is chosen by popular vote, and the winning candidate is crowned at Skansen on December 3 on the Bollnäs stage at 3 am. This years candidates are Aida Lindqvist, Charlotte Johansson, Dannielle Armandt, Johanna Martell, Lina Persson, Maria Birck och Matilda Grebestam and one of them will be chosen by popular vote to be this years Lucia.
She then returns to Skansen with her retinue for the traditional celebration on the 13th December. According to the old calendar, the longest night of the year was December 13th. In today's calendars, the winter solstice occurs in the night December 21 or 22, but Lucia´s day is still the 13th.
December 3 on the Bollnäs stage 3 am
Lucia conserts in the Seglora church
December 9 and 10 - concert with choirs from Botkyrka Music classes at 1 and 2.30 am.
December 11 - Pueri Cantantes Cathedralis directed by Elisabeth von Waldstein at 1 and 2.30 am
December 12 - choirs from Sollentuna Music classes directed by Gisela Hök-Ternström noon and 2.30 am.
December 13 - choirs and musicians from the Lilla Akademin Music School at 12.30, 2, 3 and 5 am.
Lucia in the Lodge - Ordenshuset Brofästet
December 11 - Lucia concerts at noon and 2 am.
December 12 - Lucia concerts at noon and 1.30 am.
December 13 - Lucia celebration in the style of the 20´s at noon, 1.30, 3 and 4.30 am.
December 13 - Lucia returns with her retinue for a concert on the Bollnäs square at 6 am.