Saint Lucia Day of “Lucia Dagen” is December 13th and marks the beginning of the Swedish Christmas season. On the old medieval calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year; so Lucia, which in Latin means “light”, marks the return of lengthening days.
Early on the morning of the 13th, households in Sweden and in Swedish communities are awakened by Lucia. Lucia is usually the eldest daughter of the family and is dressed in a white robe with a crimson sash and lingon leaf crown with lighted candles. She sings the old Sicilian melody “Santa Lucia” and serves hot coffee and saffron buns called Lussekatter. (Lucia cats). The bread symbolizes hunger and the candles, light in the darkness.
St. Lucia Day developed as a tradition in the 19th century. The origin is unknown. However, according to legend, the first Lucia was a young girl from Syracuse, Sicily who was about to become a bride. She gave her entire dowry to help the poor. She was martyred for her Christian faith and died December 13, 304 A.D. Sometime later Saint Lucia was said to have appeared by candlelight across Lake Vänern, in the province of Värmland, Sweden, bringing food during a famine.
Lucia represents the light, hope, love, and faith of the Christmas Season.