As you could read in the darkest night section, the date was logic. The name that day happened to be Lucia, a catholic saint most people never heard of. Instead, we invented Lussie – a troll (married to Lucifer) who threw flees in your bed at night (just for fun). In Swedish, a flee is called a “lus”. If “lus” or Lussie came first – I don’t know.
Among the nobles of society, it wasn’t quite politically correct to celebrate the night of Lucifer. So, they started to celebrate Lucia instead sometimes during the 17th to 18th century.
During this time, Christmas itself was like in Europe, just another church event.
Back then, people usually didn’t get paid in money. They got paid in alcohol with the result that Sweden was drowning in liquor towards the end of 1800’s. The new non-drinking-movement (NTO) grew.
With industrialism people moved to the bigger cities and much of the old tradition could not be kept in the new surroundings. A new one had to be invented. The non-drinking-movement took the legend of Lucia and put all other traditional gigs from Christmas and put them right into Lucia. Now, the festivities got sober and suited better into the more strict, Lutheran church. A new tradition was born 1927!
Lucia – a catholic saint from Sicilia. She was rich and a man wanted her. She knew it wasn’t for her but for the money. So, she gave away all her money to the poor. He told her she had the most beautiful eyes, so she ripped them out and gave to him. She could, thanks to God, still see. The man got pissed, and turned her to the authorities, since she secretly was Christian. The judge sentenced her to work at the local whore house but when the police came for her, they couldn’t move her from the spot. Ok, she’s a witch, they said. Decided to burn her right where she stood. However, the flames didn’t affect her. Proof she’s a witch. During a short moment, she looked at her fiancé and felt sorry for him. That weakened her and her fiancé stuck a spear in her throat. Today, she’s the saint for all who has problems with their sight.
Lucia means light – which is suitable for an “angel” coming with the light after the longest night.
Most Lucia songs are from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. A few older songs have survived and have been added to the Lucia tradition.
The chandelier is another fun story. As the Lutherans broke with the Catholics they had a really hard time getting rid of the most popular saint of all times, Santa Claus. So, the Lutherans invented a new tradition on the 24th of December. Baby Jesus! They had some young kid dress up in white and put a chandelier on its head, to look like the Gloria. Sadly, the Catholics loved it and adopted the tradition even before the Lutherans had rooted it. So, the Lutherans where left at it again. They simply had to keep Saint Nick but remove all religious symbols and turn him into the “Christmas Man” (Weihnachtsmann).
At the end of the Lucia process line, you’ll find some guys dressed in white and with funny hats. Called the star-boys. They are what’s left of at least three different Christmas events.
- Star-singers. If you wanted to go to school some centuries ago, the church was all there was. To pay for your tuition you sang in the church choir. During Christmas, you could make some extra “money” by singing in the streets. These guys were dressed in white, as in church.
- The three wise men. This tradition is still alive in many parts of the world. The funny hats of the star-boys come from this tradition.
- Saint Stefanus. In Swedish: Staffan. Actually, this is the prehistoric fresh water spring cult together with the Celtic horse cult that has survived in the story of Staffan. Therefore, they carry a little star and sing about Staffan. This story is probably non-Christian in its origin. Staffan, working as a horse man at King Herodes rides the horses to the forest spring during the darkest night, since the water that night was believed to be magic. When doing this, he sees the star of Bethlehem. Happy he rides to the king and tells him the good news. Herodes laughs and says: “If it is true that a king is born that is greater than me, this fried chicken might as well be living again!” – which is exactly what happened in this medieval story. However, King Herodes is not happy to hear about the new competition with a Messiahs born. He orders his soldiers to kill all boy childs in Bethlehem up to two years of age. Staffan (Stefanus) gets killed by stoning.