I’m not quite ready to celebrate the coming of light in the dark, for right now, today, we are beginning the darkest days/week of the entire year. Up here in Sweden, in my city of Uppsala, we have 4-5 hours of daylight right now. Which don’t actually feel like daylight when it’s cloudy, cold, rainy, and snowy. It may seem extreme, and it feels extreme, but I have settled into the dark, inner pull of the earth right now. And I need to be here for a little while. What I mean, is that my soul yearns for + craves this very special time of year. So, I plan to really soak it up over the next 7 days – until the winter solstice next Thursday. Because it is a most magical time of year.
And, while I am not quite ready to celebrate the returning of light back to the northern hemisphere of the earth, in Sweden, I am reminded that it is coming. Which, actually, is a good thing because it inspires me to really dig deep over these next 7 days before the shift occurs.
Today, however, in Sweden we celebrated Lucia Day. It is a celebration of St. Lucia, of Italy, who is the patron saint of bringing light into a dark world. And this is a high celebration in Sweden, in the midst of the midwinter darkness. A symbol of hope, a reminder to hold on, and a call to ponder how each of us can be a bearer of light in our own part of the world. There are traditions that abound in Sweden that unite us all on this day. Lucia songs and hymns, Lucia concerts, Lucia trains (girls + boys dressed in costumes singing as they process around businesses, malls, schools), fikas (coffee breaks) with gingerbread cookies, saffron buns, and mulled wine, and lots of, tons of, candles. All to brighten the darkness + create coziness.
In my little family we watch the national Lucia concert on tv at 7am with the rest of the country. And we light a Lucia candle. At work, we prepared gingerbread cookies, candles, soda, and coffee for the students throughout the day – and we decorated the school with a little Christmas feeling. Late in the afternoon, we had a little staff office fika time, with mulled wine + all of the goodies that go along with Lucia day + Christmas.
It is a cozy, cozy day steeping with deep traditions that ooze with symbolism. I’m not sure if people think much about why they celebrate Lucia day, to be honest with you; but, how we celebrate it seems to be the focus. What is most important that we just have to have/do on this day. Or, maybe, it’s just taken for granted, we all know that it’s dark right now + this is a chance for the whole country to dig in the coziness of the season.
Whatever one may or may not ponder about Lucia, for me, it is a powerful day. It is a beautiful day. And, I was not the only one that was moved to tears at the beauty of the moments throughout the day. Knowing that we all are gathering together in these darkest days, to create an atmosphere of hope + light in the dark, well, that’s just the most simple + beautiful way to truly present that I can think of.
So, my light-bearing lovelies, the light is coming. It will return. But, for just a few days more, let’s to all we can to simply be present in the dark. To feel the warmth + chill, the mystery + coziness of these days, and to slow down and spend some time preparing for the light that is to come.
Happy Lucia Day! xoxo. liz.