Locals Celebrate Swedish Saint Lucia Day

DULUTH, Minn — One of the biggest events on the Swedish calendar took place today in Downtown Duluth.

St. Lucia Day is coming up, and to recognize that the Swedish Cultural Society came together for the annual Sankta Lucia celebration. The ceremony begins with Christmas elves skipping around the ballroom as hymns are performed by a Swedish choir.

Then comes the Lucia procession which sees the star children being followed by the maids of light all who presented Lydia Kraker as Saint Lucia to the audience. The choir then sings the song “Sankta Lucia” as the saint and her maids of light hand out saffron buns to everyone gathered.

“The Swedish Cultural Society and others around the world recognize Lucia because she is the bride of light, the bride of hope.” Jennifer Conboy, President of the Society says, “And that’s a custom that’s gone back and actually originated in Sicily, in Italy. But the Swedes have adopted her.”

St. Lucia Day represents the start of the Christmas season for the Swedes as well as reminds them of the story of how Lucia gave her life to bring food to hungry Swedes over 1000 years ago.

To symbolize the generosity Saint Lucia showed the Swedish people in the fourth century, a Christmas brunch was provided after the procession.

This Sankta Lucia celebration has taken place in Duluth for over thirty years and the tradition is important to both the old…and the young.

Lydia Kraker had the honor of being Sankta Lucia and told us: “Well ever since I was little, must’ve been probably five or six and before that when I wasn’t actually in the ceremony, it’s always been like Lucia’s the goal. You want to be Lucia and you see the older girls, they’re Lucia. So for me to finally do this is really special and it’s an opportunity for me to really, truly experience my Swedish heritage and culture.”

This year the ceremony was closed with a prayer from Lucia’s mother’s father which highlights the lasting impact of this tradition.

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