Holidays Around the World,  St. Lucia's Day

St. Lucia’s Day

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Saint Lucy’s day, or St. Lucia’s day is a wonderful holiday to teach children about when learning about celebrations around the world. St. Lucia’s day is a holiday where children take center stage as they join processions in schools, churches, businesses and care homes.

Where and why is St. Lucia’s day celebrated?

St. Lucia was an early Christian martyr, who was killed by the Romans for her religious beliefs.  Her saints day is honored in Norway, Sweden and in Swedish talking parts of Finland on December 13, which on the ancient calendar was the shortest, and therefore darkest, day of the year.  St. Lucia’s day marks the beginning of the Christmas festivities.

How is St. Lucia’s day celebrated?

On the morning of December 13, the eldest girl in a family dresses as Saint Lucy and wears of crown of lights on her head.  The girls wear long white dresses and have a red sash around their waist.  Long ago the crown of lights on the eldest girl’s head was made up of candles, but now battery operated candles are used.  Boys dress up as star boys, wearing long white robes, and wear a paper cone hat and carry a stick with a star on it that looks like a wand.  Younger sisters dress up too.  They do not wear candles in their crowns, however, they carry a solitary candle each. 

Traditional procession in a church
By Claudia Gründer (Claudia Gründer) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The children wake up early in the morning and serve coffee and sweet rolls to their parent and sing songs.  They go to school wearing their special Saint Lucy clothes.  They visit the old people, hospitals, offices or churches and give out cookies and sing traditional songs.

Food is an important part of St. Lucia’s day.  Lussekats are sweet rolls made with saffron and raisins. 

lussekats – saffron buns

Pepparkakor are ginger snap cookies that are given out to people.  They drink coffee with the sweet treats.

pepparkarkor – ginger snap cookies

Celebrating in school

You can easily make a Saint Lucy crown with this wreath and battery candles.  All you need is a glue gun, batteries and some imagination!

9″ boxwood wreath
battery powered candles

For a paper crown version, use these templates so that every child can wear the crown safely!

simple Santa Lucia crown – click here to buy

Make Pepparkakor

If you have access to an oven in school, pepparkakor is relatively simple to make.  You will probably want to spend two days on it, one day to make the dough, then let it rest overnight, and cut and bake the next day.  You could also bring in the prepared dough and have the children just cut the cookies and bake.  Click on the image to download a free recipe.

free pepparkakor recipe

Saint Lucia flip book and activities

These activities and differentiated flip book are the perfect way to engage learners in their study of Saint Lucy’s day.

St. Lucia flip book and activities – click here to buy

Video

This video about St. Lucia’s day is more suitable for adults, but gives some humorous information about the day and the celebrations.

https://youtu.be/IgxZS4mWSrw
 

Learn about the customs and traditions surrounding St. Lucia's day, celebrated in Sweden and Norway on December 13.  Download a free pepparkakor recipe - click here to learn more.

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