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Swedish Lucia celebrations light up mid-winter darkness

Published söndag 13 december 2015 kl 11.15
Lucia service from Växjö
(2:57 min)
The year's Lucia in Växjö Cathedral, broadcast on SR, is Tilda Averin. Photo: Göran Winberg/SR
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The year's Lucia in Växjö Cathedral, broadcast on SR, is Tilda Averin. Photo: Göran Winberg/SR
Lucia celebrations invite all sorts of guests. Photo: Agneta Johansson/SR.
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Lucia celebrations invite all sorts of guests. Photo: Agneta Johansson/SR.
School children give a Lucia performance at a shelter for Asylum Seekers. Photo: Anna Jutehammar/ Sveriges Radio
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School children give a Lucia performance at a shelter for Asylum Seekers. Photo: Anna Jutehammar/ Sveriges Radio
Lucia on Gotland. Photo: Mika Koskelainen/Sveriges Radio
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Lucia on Gotland. Photo: Mika Koskelainen/Sveriges Radio
Lucia in Jämtland. Photo: Lotta Löfgren/Sveriges Radio.
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Lucia in Jämtland. Photo: Lotta Löfgren/Sveriges Radio.

Lucia celebrations are taking place across Sweden today, the festival of light illuminating the mid-winter darkness.

SVT television and Swedish Radio broadcast their traditional early morning Lucia services, watched and listened to by Swedes across the country.

Saint Lucia's Day, on the 13th of December each year, is one of the most  important days in the Swedish holiday season.

The day has become a festival of light in the middle of the winter darkness. In the old calendar, the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, fell on December 13th, St. Lucia's day in the Catholic saint's calendar. From that day on, the light returned.

Swedes celebrate the saint of light, traditionally with young women or girls in white gowns and red sashes led by a Lucia, singing the Swedish version of the "Santa Lucia" song, and accompanied by boys dressed as "star boys" or elves. Today the traditional crown of candles has mostly been replaced with electric lights.

Though Lucia traditionally is blonde, in recent years Swedish schools have started choosing dark-haired, or even dark-skinned, Lucias, and sometimes even boys.

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