In Scandinavia one of the biggest celebrations around Christmas time is Saint Lucy’s Day, or Sankta Lucia, on 13th December. The celebrations around this day come from stories told by the Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.
Lucia was a young Christian girl who, wearing a candle-lit wreath on her head to leave her hands free to carry things, would secretly bring food to persecuted Christians in Rome who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city.
The name Lucy means ‘light’ so, as this feast would traditionally coincide with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, this celebration has become the Christian festival of light in Scandinavia.
Saint Lucy’s Day Celebrations
In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, a girl is elected to portray Lucia and dressed in a white gown with a red sash. She leads a procession of women, each holding a candle and singing a Lucia song while entering the room where the celebrations are taking place. Each Scandinavian country has its own lyrics for this song, which is based on the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia, which describes the view from Santa Lucia in Naples.
After finishing this song, the procession sings Christmas carols or more songs about Lucia.
If you’d like to attend the nearest organised Sankta Lucia celebration then head to York Minster on 8th December for their annual procession and service.
Saint Lucia’s Night at Baltzersen’s
In the five years we’ve been open, we’ve never managed to get our act together and organise a Saint Lucy’s Day celebration, so this year we’ve decided to do something special to commemorate the tradition.
You’ll be pleased to hear we’re not going to make guests parade around the cafe in white gowns and candle-lit crowns. We’re going to celebrate Saint Lucia’s Day in our own way, decorating the cafe with candles for a cosy atmosphere and making Lussekatter (saffron buns) which are the sweet treats usually associated with the occasion.
Proceeds from these saffron buns will go to Supporting Older People, a local charity that aims to alleviate loneliness and isolation amongst older people who live alone. You can read more about the charity and the work they do here.
We’ll also be making our own gløgg, the Norwegian version of mulled wine, and offering some of the usual Baltzersen’s fare: coffee, tea and cakes.
We’ll remain open from 5pm and close around 7pm. It’s going to be a relaxed atmosphere and anyone is welcome. We’ll light some candles, turn the music up a little louder than usual and settle in.
We hope you’ll join us as we try to bring a little more hygge to Harrogate with a cosy, intimate celebration of Saint Lucia on December 13th.