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St. Lucia’s Day light conquers winter's darkness

St. Lucia’s Day is one of the few saint days observed in the Nordics and is marked on December 13. Although the commemoration is especially common among Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority, Finnish schools and day care centres are increasingly adopting the tradition.

Lucia-kulkue esiintyy päiväkotilapsille.
Young charges of the Hattelmala daycare in rapt attention as the Lucia procession performs. Image: Hannu Harhama / Yle

This year St. Lucia, who wears candles on her crown and brings light into darkness, has a special place in the lives of many suffering extended power outages following the passing of the storm Seija.

In Hämeenlinna, in the stunning weather that follows many storms, a procession led by St. Lucia of the Lyseo school made its way to the Hattelmala daycare to entertain children with songs and the legend of St. Lucia.

In other parts of Finland, students wearing the coveted St. Lucia crown and accompanied by a cortege visited elder care facilities and hospitals to bring the message of the coming of the light in the midst of darkness.

In Finland part of the significance of St. Lucia’s Day lies in the fact that it precedes the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year gives way to longer periods of daylight and offers a reprieve from the oppressive darkness of early winter.

Finland’s national St. Lucia is traditionally crowned in the Helsinki Cathedral on December 13, a tradition that dates back to the late 1940s.

Lucia 2013 Elin Andersson
Elin Andersson is Finland's national St. Lucia 2013. Image: Yle/Hannah Norrena
This year, it is Elin Andersson, an 18 year old high school student from Tammisaari. Following her coronation, she will appear at around 80 different events over the next month in her role as a bringer of light.




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