Christmas In SWEDEN

A thousand years ago in Sweden, King Canute declared that Christmas would last a month, from December 13, the feast of St. Lucia until January 13, or Tjugondag Knut (St. Canute's Day). No one is quite sure why Lucia, a 4th century Sicilian saint, came to be so revered in Sweden. Some say she once visited the country, and others believe missionaries brought stories of her life which entranced the Swedish people. Her story is that in the days of early Christian persecution, Lucia carried food to Christians hiding in dark underground tunnels. To light the way she wore a wreath of candles on her head. Eventually Lucia was arrested and martyred.

On her feast day the eldest daughter in each family dresses in a white dress with a red sash, and wears an evergreen wreath with seven lighted candles on her head. She (very carefully) carries coffee and buns to each family member in his or her room. Many schools, offices, and communities sponsor Lucia processions in which carol are sung and everyone thanks the Queen of Light for bringing hope during the darkest time of the year.

On Christmas Eve a certain Christmas gnome, known as the tomte, emerges from his home under the floor of the house or the barn. He carries a sack over his shoulder and leaves gifts for all.

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