Swedish Lucia: a celebration with song

Swedish Lucia: a celebration with song
For anyone unable to make it to a Lucia concert this year, contributor Fern Scott Olsson sets the scene and offers some serene video footage of a renowned youth choir in Stockholm taking part in one of Sweden's most cherished holiday traditions.

Although not an official national holiday, Lucia popular occasion in Sweden where kids and their red-eyed parents gather before day break in schools, day care centres, churches, hospitals, retirement homes–and even some work places–to participate in Lucia processions and concerts.

Dressed in floor length white gowns with tinsel or leafy garland crowns for girls and cone shaped hats for boys, they light candles and sing traditional Lucia songs, before everyone stuffs themselves with saffron buns and gingerbread cookies.

One of the most celebrated Lucia concerts are those sung by the students of the most celebrated music school in Sweden, Adolf Fredrik’s Music Classes (AFMC).

In an atmosphere that is both ceremonious and touching, grade four students are introduced to the art of holding a Lucia concert by the grade nine students at Gustav Vasa Church in Stockholm.

“It is really fun to be in such a big choir. I really like to hear the big kids sing,” says fourth grader Katja Olsson.

The song “Santa Lucia” which most Swedish children know by heart, has borrowed its melody from an Italian fishing song and is about spreading light on this, one of the darkest days of the year.