December 13th in Sweden is Lucia day. It’s basically a celebration of light in the darkness, based on an Italian saint who had her eyes gouged out (really gets kids in the Christmas spirit).
All over Sweden, choirs of children dress in white robes while one girl (the Lucia) has a crown of lit candles on her head. The other children carry their candles.
I volunteered to be the helping parent for one of my son’s classes on this celebration. All I knew was that I was required to stand on the side with a bucket of water in case someone caught on fire. Sounded kind of exciting.
It turns out that kids catching fire was the LEAST of my worries.
First of all, I had to help the teacher accompany the kids from the school to the church. This was like trying to herd goats that are constantly stopping to make and throw snowballs at each other. (Yes, goats totally do that.) I almost had 2 kids get run over because they didn’t stop at the crossing light and were way too cool to acknowledge my screaming “STOP!”, causing them to be stuck in the middle of the road with cars speeding past.
During rehearsal, no one caught on fire (good thing, since they didn’t give us our buckets for rehearsal), but 2 kids almost fainted and a few burned their hands on dripping wax.
I think that all parents should have to assist with a class activity or outing to understand what these teachers have to deal with every day. Not just observing the class, but actually having to herd them, instruct them and keep them alive.
To sum up:
- Teachers should be paid more.
- Kids are like goats.
- I am never volunteering to help out with a school class again.
P.S. The actual Lucia concert went just fine. I think these kids behave a lot better when parents and cameras are watching. haha!
December 13, St. Lucia day
Today begins early in the morning when it’s still dark. A girl dresses up as a dead Italian saint with fire on her head followed by “tärnor” (like Lucia maidens – no fire on head) and “stjärngossar (star boys who wear white pointy hats, I have no idea why) singing Christmas songs.
It’s a celebration of light in the darkness of winter. Young children wear electric candles on their head, but above age 12, they wear real candles. Yes, the wax drips down as the ceremony usually lasts 30 minutes to an hour. They have a light covering on their hair, but most Lucias have long hair and it still falls into the bottom parts.
The outfit Lucia wears is for an Italian saint who brought food in secret tunnels to persecuted Christians. She wore candles on her head to see in the tunnel. The red sash represents blood, as she was sentenced to death and they tried to stab her (apparently didn’t work). They also tried to set her on fire, which is why everyone carries candles (also didn’t work). These days the candles mostly represent the light she brings.
One of my sons had three Lucia performances over the weekend and has two more today. My husband had the job of being class parent for one of the concerts, which means he had to stand to the side during the performance with a bucket of water in case anyone caught fire.
So much more exciting than just being a chaperone at a school dance, I think.
My family and I are taking a vacation to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. I know what you’re thinking.
A. Where is Slovenia?
B. Isn’t it just a gray place where people eat goulash?
Actually, no! Though the looks I get from people when I tell them we are taking a vacation in Slovenia are between a half-smile and a worried look in the eyes. It’s like they can’t decide whether they should be happy or feel sorry for us.
It turns out, the city actually looks like this:
Although, it is winter now, but then it’s covered in Christmas lights. Gorgeous!
But if you guys keep wanting to think of goulash peasant towns, go right ahead. I think we will keep this little gem all to ourselves.
Last winter, our family went to Prague for the Christmas market. We discovered a wonderful thing about Christmastime there – they start selling hot wine at 10 in the morning! No wonder the entire city was so happy! Stockholm needs to catch up with this. In fact, the whole world should catch up with this. The Czechs know how to make the holiday season a stress-free one. 🙂