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Santa Lucia Celebration

Foreigners in Finland Online Magazine
Photo by Juha Roisko

December 13 is officially St. Lucia's Day; a Christian tradition celebrated mostly in Scandinavian countries and Italy. This annual tradition is famous and favorite of most people as a symbol of bringing light in the darkness of winter, warming the hearts, and offering joy. The influential part of the St. Lucia celebration for their fans is the coronation of Lucia of Finland in the Helsinki Cathedral on December 13.

St. Lucia Day in Finland

There are several legends about St. Lucia, who brought food and aid to Christians by using a candle-lit wreath on her head to light up her way and carrying food with free hands. This commemoration is from the Catholic church and has lasted through Nordic countries, which are mostly are Lutherans.

Saint Lucia's Day is a popular celebration in Scandinavian countries. In Finland, Saint Lucia's Day or Luciadagen (in Swedish language) is a significant celebration mostly for the Swedish-speaking Finns. However, many Finnish-speaking schools and daycare centers celebrate Lucia's Day as well.

Saint Lucia is crowned at Helsinki Cathedral on December 13, she wears a white robe, has a candle-lit wreath on her head, and carries a candle. She parades through the city center while many people greet and wave at her with amiable smiles.

Other cities in Finland also crown their own St. Lucia's, such as Turku and Oulu.

A traditional pastry called Lucia-pulla is eaten during this celebration.

St. Lucia's candidates and fans

The St. Lucia of Finland is selected every year by voting, organized by folkhälsan and the Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, a non-governmental social welfare organization. Most teenage girls dream of someday being chosen to be "Lucia of the year," which is an honor for them. Voting starts in October, and it lasts for almost a month. The announcement of the name for St. Lucia usually occurs at the end of November.

St. Lucia of Finland will receive her crown at the Helsinki Cathedral, situated in the Senate Square. After the coronation, she will step out from the church accompanied by other girls as helpers. There are thousands of people observing and following the procession and cheering them.

Lucia has come into charity and "has many roles and social responsibilities," according to the chief Lucia organizer, Folkhälsans Margaretha Wildtgrube. Lucia visits several places after the coronation, such as the Finnish parliament, elderly houses, hospitals, orphanages, daycare centers, and nursing homes. The goal is to collect funds through Folkhälsan's Saint Lucy fundraising drive and help families in Finland with children who have experienced violence at home. People could donate money if they wish; the instructions are found on this site. However, you need to know a little Swedish or Finnish language.

Please note: due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Cathedral is closed for the public. Also, the traditional parade has been canceled.

This year, Foreigners in Finland crowns our own Lucia 2020 to bring light to foreign families and to aspire young foreigners, that there is light to every darkness. There is hope when times are desperate.



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