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Andersonville’s St. Lucia Festival Of Lights Will Shine In The Darkest Time Of The Year


Photo: Andersonville.org

Continuing the Scandinavian tradition of Andersonville, the St. Lucia Festival of Lights once again takes center stage this holiday season. The annual procession is led by chosen “Lucia Girls” who wear long white robes and beautiful crowns of candles. Both adults and children are welcome to take part in the festivity.

The event will take place on Sunday, Dec. 13, beginning with the procession at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., at 4:45 p.m. Leslie Nordstrom, marketing manager at the museum, explained that events begin even earlier than that.

On Friday, Dec. 11, at 11:30 a.m. at the Daley Center , the St. Lucia Girl will be chosen “very democratically,” Nordstrom says, “by drawing a name out of a bowl.” Girls come from Scandinavian traditions and are often in their teens or 20s. One requirement is that the girl must be unmarried. Nordstrom admits that the event draws a good deal of attention, mostly due to the music and the candidates for the St. Lucia Girls.

According to the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsors this popular event, “The Lucia festival is a popular, though relatively modern, tradition in Sweden and Swedish communities worldwide. Lucia was an Italian saint, born about 284 A.D. in Sicily. Known for her generosity in feeding the poor and homeless, St. Lucia was executed at the age of 20 during the Romans’ persecution of Christians. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Lucia legend came up to Sweden through Germany. The first public Lucia celebration was held in Stockholm in 1927. The Swedes’ affection for the Lucia festival is due partially to the timing; Lucia festivals provide a ray of light during the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year in Sweden.”

The procession, which begins at the Swedish American Museum, is a short one. “It’s cold,” Nordstrom says, “and those gowns are very thin.” The procession will wind its way up Clark Street to the Swedish Bakery, where some singing will take place and will then return to the museum for a concert at 5 p.m. Admission is $1 or a can of food for Care for Real, our local food pantry, in keeping with the Lucia tradition of caring for the poor and hungry. As this event is popular, Nordstrom suggests that individuals who wish to attend arrive early to get a good seat.

At 7 p.m., the festival will move to Ebenezer Lutheran Church at 1650 W. Foster Ave. for another concert and treats to follow.

For more information, go to Swedishamericanmuseum.org or Andersonville.org

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