theJo as Saint Lucia
TRADITION | The day of Lucia, happening today (as of December 13th), is a celebration of Lucia - the patron saint of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. Where celebrated, Lucia day also marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration. And there are essentially two different traditions as to how to celebrate Lucia; one based in Sweden, and the other one hails from Sicily itself.

The name Lucia is Latin, meaning something like "the radiant" or "the carrier of light". The annual celebration, known as "lusse" in Sweden, is recognised by kids walking around in a straight procession dressed in white gowns, holding candles and singing traditional Lucia / Christmas songs. The leader of the bunch is generally acting out the role of Lucia herself, wearing a crown of lit candles, as well as a red ribbon around her waist. The latter symbolizes the blood of the saint who died in the 300's (A.D.).

Starry lads

"Star lads" circa 1944, out collecting funds. Not sure what role the black painted man had in this, however. Different times...
Similar to trick-or-treaters of Halloween, kids sometimes also march around the neighbourhood from door to door, sharing a few songs with the elderly, especially. Unlike trick-or-treaters, they usually don't ask for anything in return, but instead actually bring some treats, like gingerbread, which they share with the people they meet.

Boys attending the Lucia procession (also dressed in white gowns), usually also wear silly looking gold starred cones on their heads, with a matching white base colour. Bringing light and a message of peace, they obviously have no connection to "the clan" or any other extremist group. Still, due to their loose fitted, white costumes and lit candles, these so-called "star lads" sometimes tend to cause a bit of confusion amongst foreigners, not entirely accustomed to this peaceful Swedish tradition.

Saint Lucia celebration on TV

Seen below is the televised Lucia celebration of yesteryear in Sweden:

I'm afraid I'm not too familiar with the original Sicilian Lucia traditions, and how they differ from the Scandinavian version. But this is what I get to experience on this day each and every year, anyway. So, whoever feels like sharing the grief...

Happy Lucia day, folks!
/theJo
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