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North Europe: traditional celebrations in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark to mark St Lucy’s Day

The North is soon to celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day, 13 December, commemorating the martyr who brings light into the darkness. As is tradition, there will be performances tomorrow in kindergartens, schools, and retirement homes across Sweden by groups of girls dressed in white with wreath of candles on their heads: it is “the image of every baptized person bringing the light of Christianity into the world’s darkness”, the website of the Church of Sweden, where the tradition is especially rooted, reads. Lucy wears a red sash around her waist, symbolizing her martyrdom. All Lucys, young and less young, will bring light together with their songs and joy. In Copenhagen and Roskilde, Denmark, where the tradition was interrupted by the Reformation in 1536, a procession of brightly-lit kayaks will sail through the canals to mark the Day. And the Cathedrals of Trondheim and Bergen in Norway will host choral concerts. Also tomorrow at 5 o’clock, in front of Helsinki Cathedral, the Lucy for 2017 will be crowned in a solemn way as part of the events marking the 100th anniversary of independence. This year, 21-year-old Anna-Kajsa Edström, a Colombian studying in Sweden, was elected to play Lucy. She is entrusted with the task of being the ambassador, between December and January, for a fundraising campaign launched by the NGO Folkhälsan to support families with children facing economic hardship.

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