Santa Lucia Day
Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
Rachael Rasmussen was born in Salt Lake City in 1996. She currently attends college at Utah State University. Rachael’s grandparents immigrated from Sweden as young adults and have continued celebrating many of the Swedish customs with their family. Rachael also played the part of “St. Lucy” when she was ten.
Santa Lucia Day is one of Sweden’s oldest calendar customs. The celebration takes place on December 13th and is mostly celebrated in Scandinavia. The long winters in Sweden make this custom especially notable because it represents the coming forth of light. It’s typically associated with the coming of Christmas, the coming of Christ, with light being the symbol of the literal and figurative eradication of darkness.
Well, my grandmother from Sweden only has three granddaughters, so whenever one of us was around ten years old, it didn’t matter the exact age… just around there, we’d get to play Saint Lucia. We’d get to wear this white dress with the traditional crown wreath… thing… [laughs]. My grandma would give us a tray of “kanelbullar,” [PRONOUNCED: CAN-BOO-LA] which are like Swedish cinnamon buns that we’d bring out to our extended family while wearing the outfit. In Sweden, the oldest girl in the family is always the one who plays the part of Saint Lucia. But because there were so few girls in our family and it probably wouldn’t have been enjoyable as adults, we’d just take turns when we were ten-ish.
Rachael is my roommate. The interview took place in our living room while we paused Good Will Hunting. The interview was very casual. She’d mentioned her Swedish heritage before, but I had no idea that she was so connected to her roots. She spoke fondly of the memories of playing Saint Lucy and her Swedish grandparents.
Semester and year
Rivera, Josephine, "Santa Lucia Day" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 316.