One of the most recognizable Swedish holidays, St. Lucia Day, honors the martyr Lucia who died in Syracuse in 304. According to a Swedish legend, Lucia was also the first wife of Adam, who consorted with the devil. Therefore, the holiday represents both light and darkness. Its main highlight is the St. Lucia Procession when a young girl in a white robe and a wreath of candles on her head is followed by a group of other girls. In small towns, girls enter competitions, to become a Lucia, and the winner is paraded around the town in a horse-drawn carriage. In large cities, visitors can see Lucia processions early in the morning at different businesses, schools, universities, and shopping malls. In the evenings, special St.Lucia concerts are held in major churches.
In Stockholm, one of the best places to see St. Lucia Procession and concert is Storkyrkan also called Sankt Nikolai kyrka. The solemn atmosphere of the Cathedral makes this celebration especially inspiring. St. Lucia Processions are also carried at The Blue Hall of the City Hall and the beautiful church of Adolf Fredriks Kyrka in the city center.
St.Lucia in Skansen
The largest celebration dedicated to the martyr is held at Skansen Open Air Museum, located on the island of Djurgården. The two-day program includes reenactments, processions from different time periods, and the fullest overview of the holiday's traditions. It culminates with the St.Lucia concert on the Solliden stage. The action starts with Lucia and her handmaids parading the scene in an actual royal carriage.
St. Lucia processions can also be viewed at many Swedish Christmas Markets. The Christmas Market in Malmö, located at the main square of the city, hosts the Santa Lucia procession at 6:30 pm on December 13th. In Gothenburg, visit Liseberg Christmas Market, the largest in Sweden. Its St Lucia’s Day celebration features atmospheric choir singing, special Christmas buffets and saffron buns, traditional for the holiday.