State Fairgrounds, Raleigh NC - 10am - 5pm, Saturday Dec. 2nd, 2023
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The Scandinavian Fair Presents Swedish Christmas Traditions
In the early hours of the morning of December 13, a young woman wearing a white gown, a red sash and a crown of candles emerges from the darkness carrying a tray of rich saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake her family.
So begins the feast day of Saint Lucia in homes throughout Sweden and other Nordic countries. Celebrated as a festival of light, Lucia Day marks the return of daylight to sun-starved Scandinavians and officially ushers in the Christmas season.
Customarily, the eldest daughter portrays Lucia, the Queen of Light, while her younger siblings, also dressed in white, follow her with candles and lanterns. As the procession moves through the house, the children sing the familiar Italian song, “Sancta Lucia.”
The Lucia procession and other Scandinavian Christmas traditions will be the focus of the annual Scandinavian Christmas Fair on December 2nd, at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The event features Scandinavian folk dancing, live Scandinavian music and other entertainment. Traditional and modern handicrafts, an array of homemade Scandinavian food and extensive Scandinavian imports will be for sale. In addition, the Scandinavian Christmas Fair will present a colorful “fashion” show of authentic folk costumes from many regions of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Why Scandinavians celebrate an Italian saint
The tradition of the Lucia procession began in Sweden over a hundred years ago but has its roots in the ancient celebration of Saint Lucia, an early Christian martyr and a patron saint of virgins. The original Lucia was a 4th century maiden from Syracuse, Italy, who was blinded, then slain by Roman soldiers on December 13. Before the adoption of the Julian calendar in the 1300s, December 13 marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The Lucia story survived the Protestant Reformation and the calendar reform, which brought the solstice to December 23.
Because her name means “light” and her martyrdom occurred
at the winter solstice, Scandinavians associate Lucia with light and the
return of the sun after months of darkness.
The annual Scandinavian Christmas Fair in Raleigh is sponsored by the Vasa
Swedish-American Fraternal Organization.