Sunday, December 14, 2014

St. Lucia's Day

The other night, we visited the country of Iceland in our Christmas trip around the world.

Although people in Iceland celebrate St. Lucia Day, a day honoring the patron saint of light, Christians in other Nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, do as well.

Now, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not pray to saints as do some other religions, instead, we believe that all believers in Christ are capable of and should act as saints, doing good and serving others where ever we go.  

Around Christmas time in Sweden (and other countries), one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th.  The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.

St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304 AD.  The most common story told about St. Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city.  She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things.  Lucy means light, a very appropriate name.

St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head.  Early in the morning on December 13th, the girl passes out coffee and donuts to her family.  Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used!

Although traditionally, the oldest girl in a household has the honor of playing St. Lucy, I gave Autumn the honor, and she was just glowing with excitement, to be our special guest!

Autumn was true grace under "fire"!  Thank goodness we didn't try to use real candles.  The crown we made was a little wobbly, and the wreath was poking poor Autumn in the head, but she smiled and played her part so well...passing out the Dunkin'Donuts!

She loved wearing the pretty white dress that my sister passed on for their baptism days (coming up!)  She felt very special, and the other girls are eager for their turn in the coming years!  Hopefully we'll come up with a more stable crown before then!

Another tradition that we had a good laugh over was that in Iceland 13 mischievous elves visit children!!!  The first day they come is December 12th and the last day is December 24th.  They leave gifts in children's shoes.  Then they gradually go back to the mountains, one by one.  By January 6th, the elves are gone and the Christmas season is over!  Love it!

The thirteen elves have different names that describe their mischief.  Here are some common ones: Window Peeper, Yogurt Gobbler, Donut Beggar, Ice Breaker, Sausage Snatcher, Pot Licker, Door Slammer, Butter Greedy, Fat Gobbler, Skirt Blower, Doorway Sniffer, Smoke Gulper, and Itty Bitty.

We were cracking up over the names and agreed that we certainly have some elves that fit that description among our family!!

If you'd like to say "Merry Christmas" in Icelandic, you'd say "Gledileg jol", pronounced gled-EH-leh yole.

Gledileg jol!


  1. Thanks for the Scandinavian traditions. My son Jeffrey Karlsson was born on St. Lucia day-his father is Swedish. Fun traditions-I learned more about St. Lucia....

  2. My oldest has been in love with St. Lucia's day since reading about it in the American Girl stories. I've never been brave enough to let her wear the candles though!

  3. I grew to love this special day during our 5 + years living in Sweden. I attended a few church celebrations and it struck me how much the emphasis is on light. The story is about a young girl bringing light and food--which can be likened to the Savior. This is particularly important and relevant to the Scandinavian countries because it is so dark and cold during the winter. So to have a special day remembering the light is especially poignant and important.

    Here is a blog entry I wrote several years ago, while living in Sweden, about this special day.

  4. Thanks for your comment on my post! I have a recipe for lussekatter that is delicious. I didn't get around to making lussekatter this weekend. I hope to do so Monday. I'll try and type out the recipe on my blog and share it here. Perhaps you can do that next year.

  5. I am really enjoying learning about how other countries celebrate Christmas. The photos on this one are just spectacular. I love your sweet little one passing out the donuts. What a fun tradition this one is; blessings for sharing!