Published on December 5, 2011 | by Daniela0
Christmas in Oslo: starts with a hymn to Italian St. Lucy
The month of December in Oslo, Norway, is full of celebrations and events. Not only it’s the month in which Nobel Prizes for Peace are awarded, but also the one that sees the city open the doors to Christmas holidays. St. Lucia Day is the Church feast day dedicated to St. Lucy and is observed on December 13.
Norway, sitting near the Arctic Circle, has the longest and darkest winters in Europe. Historically, Norwegians considered what they called Lussinatten the longest night of the year. From that night until Christmas, spirits, gnomes and trolls roamed the earth and no work was to be done.
The celebrations on St. Lucy Day derive from a popular tradition, mainly linked to pagan mythology, which sees the month of December as the month of the winter solstice and the subsequent lengthening of days; only recently it has been incorporated into the liturgy of Advent and Norwegian Church.
Therefore, the origins of today’s celebration can be now traced to the IV century martyrdom of a Sicilian virgin named Lucia.The festival of the “Queen of lights” is celebrated in schools, day-care centers, nursing homes and hospitals. Lucia symbolizes light and growth for human and beast as she emerges out of the darkness. Because her name means “light” she became the great patron saint for the “light of the body”, that is, the eyes.
Its modern day celebration is generally associated with Sweden and Norway, but is also observed in many other coutries, among which, of course, Italy.
From Oslo to Naples, in fact, “the world is a village”. Despite the cold during the Christmas season in Oslo, the tradition that requires the girls to go out at night on the day of Saint Lucy, is strictly respected. In fact, on December 13th, after sunset, Norwegian girls – wearing long white robes, a red sash around the waist and crowns of candles – process down the aisle like a wedding in reverse and into the night, as if to spread their light through the community. In the children’s choir, the finale is not the traditional Silent Night, but the Nowegian version of Santa Lucia, by the famous Neapolitan Enrico Caruso!
From the city to the smallest villages, St. Lucy’s Day announces the Christmas celebrations and is one of the most important among Scandinavian traditions. Every village has its own Lucia. In ancient times, the celebrations of Saint Lucy’s Day announced to the demons of winter that their reign was broken, that the sun would return again and the days would become longer.
In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is still a custom on December 13 for a girl in a white dress (representing the Saint), to bring a tray of saffron buns and steaming coffee while waking up the family with a song. She is called the Lussibrud (Lucy bride) and her pastry (saffron buns) is Lussekatter.
Well, at this point, we just need to wish you God Jul (Merry Christmas) and wait for your own impressions about Christmas in Oslo!
Photo by Cygnus78