Decoration with Saint Lucia ornament View larger

Decoration with Saint Lucia ornament

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Very welcome hanging decoration with wooden image of St. Lucia.

Saint Lucia of Syracuse Day, which is a festival of lights celebrated in Sweden, in Norway and in the Swedish-speaking regions of Finland on December 13th, in honor of Saint Lucia. As one of the first Christian martyrs, Blessed Lucia was killed by the Romans in 304 A.D. for her religious beliefs.

In the Scandinavian countries, each city elects its own Saint Lucia. The celebration begins with a procession led by the designated St. Lucia, which is followed by young girls dressed in white carrying wreaths of lights on their heads and boys in a white pajama-like outfit singing traditional carols. The festival marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia and is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year. Traditionally, schools close around noon on the day of the feast so families can prepare for the holiday. Communities celebrate St. Lucia's Day in their homes by having one of their daughters, usually the eldest, wear white and serve coffee and baked goods, like saffron bread and ginger cookies, to other family members. Visitors are also offered these traditional foods throughout the day.

In previous centuries, northerners celebrated the winter solstice with large bonfires to drive away evil spirits and change the course of the sun. The Norwegians, after converting to Christianity around the year 1000, included the legend of St. Lucia in their celebration. That modern festival of lights combines elements of both pagan and Christian traditions.

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