As Christmas nears in Sweden, its approach is heralded in early December with a nationwide celebration of St. Lucia’s Day. The celebration commemorates the sacrifice of a young Christian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304AD.
For more than 30 years, the Rhode Island Swedish Heritage Association has re-enacted the traditional Swedish St. Lucia Festival.
Many consider this to be the beginning of the Christmas season celebration.
The public is invited to attend the event Saturday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. at a new location, Bethany Lutheran Church, 116 Rolfe Street in Cranston.
Tickets are $10 for adults and children 5 to 14 are $5. Younger children attend free of charge. A chorus of young women will sing traditional Swedish Christmas songs; children will perform a traditional Swedish skit and songs; and a Lucia will be chosen from among several candidates vying for the honor. Following the performance, a reception featuring traditional Swedish Christmas songs and Swedish refreshments will be provided for all.
As the story goes, Lucia brought food to persecuted Christians in Rome who were hiding in the catacombs under the city. She wore candles in her hair so her hands would be free to carry food items. It is now celebrated by a girl dressed in a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles accompanied by similarly dressed attendants.
The RISHA Lucia Festival is arranged and directed by Swedish-born Astrid Drew.
For further information and pictures of last year’s festival, visit the RISHA website at www.riswedishheritage.org/2012/2012Lucia2.htm.