Sancta Lucia ‘Festival of Light’ Anglican Cathedral 8th Dec 18.00.
December 13th was originally thought to be the shortest day of the year.
It is celebrated all over Sweden as the Festival of Light and St Lucia’s Day, and it marks the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.
Saturday night will fill the Anglican Cathedral Liverpool with hundreds of people eager to view the beautiful sight of the Lucia maids procession. But, how many know the true story of the young Sicilian girl who became the figurehead of a nation’s religious festival of remembrance.
The Sicilian girl Lucia, was of a Christian family. However, her father died when she was still quite a young girl and her mother arranged her marriage to a pagan. Lucia was very distressed by this and decided that she would serve God by distributing her money and jewellery amongst poor people.
When her mother became seriously ill, Lucia managed to persuade her to visit the Tomb of St Agatha where she was cured and became a Christian. At that time Christians were being persecuted so Lucia was denounced, but when guards came to arrest her, God saved her ‘by making her immovable’- God later saved her from burning, but finally she was killed by the sword in AD 304.
A candle-lit performance of the choir in the darkened corner of the cathedral is part of the service and atmosphere of Sancta Lucia which then takes a beautiful illuminated candle-lit procession up to the transept area.
In Sweden, on 13th December, the festival of Saint Lucia takes place every year.
In many parts of Sweden, the girls dress up as Saint Lucia. They wear long white dresses with red sashes around their waists.
Each girl wears a crown made from evergreen leaves and lighted candles.
A number of other girls accompany the one dressed as Saint Lucia.
They also wear white dresses with red belts, but their crowns are made of tinsel. They each carry a lighted candle.
In Sweden, first thing on 13th December, parents may be woken up by their eldest daughter who has dressed up as Saint Lucia. She might even sing them a song before giving her parents coffee and special Saint Lucia biscuits and cake.
Traditional saffron buns, lussekatte, ginger biscuits, pepparkakor and coffee are served in rememberance of what the matyr did so many years ago.
In the cathedral on Saturday night, the choir ‘Till Gladje’ which comes from two towns in Sweden, Alingas and Karlstadt, will sing melodic songs to accompany the festival. There will be about 50 members participating in the service and it is led by Louise Hellgren who has worked as a church musician for over 20 years and one who knows the Liverpool Scandinavian community very well.
This will surely be an uplifting and emotional experience for anyone regardless of their beliefs, and a fitting start to the spirit of Christmas.