Malin Dalby (Norway, UWC AC 2006-2008)
Santa Lucia has been a tradition here in the college for may years, and at the last day before Christmas break, the Norwegians and the other Nordic students in the school perform ‘Santa Lucia’. The Second years that saw it last year might wonder why all the mostly blond Nordic people were dressing up in white, singing in a language no one but they themselves understand, and hand out saffron bread to everyone. The tradition is related to the history of Santa Lucia, who supposedly lived on the Italian island of Sicily. She was beheaded on the 13th of December in 304 A.D. during the persecutions of the Christians in the late Roman Empire. In the medieval times the Norse used to celebrate the winter solstice on the 13th of December, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The solstice fest was to keep ghosts and the people who lived in the mountains and under ground away from the farms and houses. Everything had to be clean and tidy, and a lot of good food was made for them. Around 1000 A.D. the Norse converted to Christianity, and started to adopt Christian traditions. A lot of the pagan traditions were ‘justified’ by turning them into something of Christian value. (Just think of the Christmas tree!) Since Saint Lucy’s day was the 13th as well, it turned naturally into the way it is celebrated today. Now in modern days it’s the festival of lights, and the 13th of December is often the day that marks the beginning of the Christmastide.
Santa Lucia should be all dressed in white with a crown of candles on her head. Usually Lucia is blond. This is logically due to it being in mainly Scandinavia, but also because it is the day of celebration of light. In schools, nursery schools, residential homes and hospitals, it is a tradition to walk in a procession with Lucia in the front, singing the St. Lucia song to bring hope and light into the darkest months of the year.
– United World College Student Magazine –