The legend of Saint Lucia
According to the legend, Saint Lucia lived in the Roman Empire during the prosecution of Christians. Her fiance reported to the authorities that she was Christian after she had distributed his dowry among the poor. Lucia was given the death sentence. As revenge she gouged out her eyes and sent them to her fiance. Saint Lucia is the patron saint of the blind. In Syracuse, the Sicilian birthplace of Saint Lucia, she is honored on the first Sunday of May and during the eight day period starting on December 13.

Heathen and christian influences
In Scandinavia, the Lucia fest is celebrated on the 13th of December. Long before this tradition came to be, this day played an important role in the heathen belief system. This is because December 13 has the longest night of the year. According to the pagan belief, this was a dangerous night in which supernatural powers were present and animals could talk. The tradition of a light-bringing woman figure probably originates in the pagan goddess of light. Besides that, the fasting period before Christmas started on December 13 according to the tradition.

The Lucia celebration
The Lucia fest is celebrated in many places in Scandinavia, especially in Sweden. With family, in kindergartens and schools, at universities, and sometimes even in the workplace. Because many girls want to be Lucia, Swedish schools hold Lucia elections every year. According to tradition, Lucia has fair skin and long, light-blond hair. However, many people in Sweden see this traditional image as racist and sexist. It is more commonplace now to have a Lucia with dark hair. Last year there was even a non-native boy who won the Lucia elections at his school. There was some discussion, but in the end he was allowed to be Lucia. Or better said: Lucio.

Source: translation of an article in OmNorden spring 2013.

Nordom often organizes a Lucia celebration (or Julebord (Christmas dinner)) with their own Lucia choir made up of students. Our Lucia choir has even performed at the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in 2014 (click here for photos). Here you can find a short clip of the Lucia fest in 2013: