Monday, December 13, 2010

Tredje søndag i advent (Third Sunday of Advent)

Today is a special day in many Norwegian schools and kindergartens: 13th December is the day of Sicilian martyr St. Lucy. Even though saints play by far not an as big role in the Protestant Church as in the Catholic one, the tradition of St. Lucy's day is very vivid in Scandinavia, mainly in Sweden but also in Denmark and Norway!

St. Lucia
We got visit in the morning from a kindergarten. The children formed a luciatog (literally 'Lucia train': they were standing in a row holding each other's hand) and sung the song Sankta Lucia (you can listen to it here). This was originally a Southern Italian folk song (among others, Elvis Presley sings it in Italian) that has been translated into Norwegian. One girl has been chosen to be Lucia - she wore a wreath made out of lights on her head while the others followed her holding candles. It was charming! After the song had been finished, they gave away cakes called lussekatter. It is an S-formed bun made of yeast dough that has a very typical yellow colour because the most important ingredient is safran. (However, since safran is one of the world's most expensive spices, it's common to replace it with turmeric. I doubt that the kindergarten children gave away the safran version but it was delicious with turmeric as well.)

There are many superstitious traditions in the world concerning 13th December. In Hungary, if you build a three legged chair out of wood and you step on it at midnight, you can see the whitches. In Mexico (I have just heard about it lately) it is forbidden to sew on this day.

Even if this holiday has nothing to do with Christmas, it is a quite important day in the Advent time in Scandinavia. Now that the third candle has also been lit on the Advent wreath, we can read what says one of the best-known Norwegian Advent poem written by Inger Hagerup (you can also read the first and the second Sunday's stanza on my blog).

Så tenner vi tre lys i kveld
for lengsel, håp og glede.
De står og skinner for seg selv
og oss som er tilstede.
Så tenner vi tre lys i kveld,
for lengsel, håp og glede.

We light three candles tonight
We light them for longing, hope and happiness
They stand there and light for themselves
and for us who are there
We light three candles tonight
We light them for longing, hope and happiness...

Luciafeiring - Celebration of St. Lucy's day

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