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Lucia brings light to dark December

Tuesday is Santa Lucia Day, the festival of lights. According to tradition, Lucia, a young woman dressed in white and wearing a crown of candles, brings light during the darkest time of the year.

Moa ja Alva Pettersson Lucia-neitoina.
Moa ja Alva Pettersson Lucia-neitoina. Image: YLE / Petra Haavisto

This year, 19 year-old Nora Peltola from Vihti was voted in as the national Lucia during a charity fund drive.

She was crowned by Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson at the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral at 5pm. After her coronation, she led a procession towards the city centre. Many other towns and schools also select their own Lucia.

Over the next weeks and months, these young women and their entourages visit hospitals, retirement homes, prisons, orphanages and schools, bringing light, song -- as well as buns and coffee.

Schools also have their own Lucia Day celebrations. Since there can only be one Lucia at school, many little girls, wearing store-bought plastic crowns, stage their own Lucia processions at home for their families.

The Lucia tradition can be traced back to St. Lucia, an Italian martyr who died in 303 A.D.

The Nordic Lucia tradition began in the 18th century in Sweden. In the 1900s, the tradition spread to the Åland Islands and to other Swedish-speaking regions in Finland.

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