Thursday, December 18, 2008

Photostory Friday: Light

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek



It's one of my favorite moments of the Christmas Season: we turn off all of the other lights in the house, and light up the Christmas tree, for the first time. The house is bathed in reds and greens and golds. 




The lights of Christmas are soft and subtle. Candles and stars. They are different from other lights. They seem to illuminate only what is important. They are not exposing, they are revealing. Everything looks prettier, lit by Christmas lights. 

In the early morning hours of December 13, she dons the simple white robe and red sash. Upon her head is placed a crown of candles. She leads a procession of younger children through the darkened homes, bearing light and nourishment, to those within.




She is Santa Lucia. The Queen of Light. 

In Sweden, December 13 is St Lucia's Day. Legend says that Lucia was a Christian martyr of the fourth century. How this beautiful, Sicilian Saint (and in predominantly Lutheran Sweden too) came to be associated with the far, northern lands of Scandinavia, is something of a mystery. But there may be a clue in her name -- Lucia. It is derived from the Latin word Lux, which means Light. 

In the ancient Julian calendar, December 13 was the night of the winter solstice -- the end of the long journey into darkness. The return of the light. Today, in the those northern latitudes, darkness comes in the very early afternoon. 





Light is precious. 

My family is of Swedish decent, and we began keeping the tradition of Santa Lucia when Jordan, my oldest (and inheritor of all the Scandinavian genes) was very small. We modify it slightly. Traditionally, Lucia carries coffee and saffron buns, but we're not coffee drinkers, and have you seen the price of saffron?!? So, it's usually hot chocolate or wassail, and cinnamon rolls or cookies, at our house. 

We also like to tie it in to the larger celebration of Christmas, as well. After all, isn't that really what Christmas is all about:




The Light, which pierces the darkness. 

25 comments:

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

What a beautiful post with beautiful pictures. You have a lovely tradition with your family - I am sure your children will cheris these moments for years to come!!

Kat said...

That is a wonderful tradition. And I love the pictures. The last one really made me smile. :)

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Fabulous photography Chris! I love the legend of Santa Lucia. I am of a bit of Norwegian descent but my family pretty much had santa clause plow over every other tradition. My children celebrate without santa's big shadow -- he's just a bit player. The Christ child and the many traditions worldwide that welcome him have become the foundation of our ever growing traditions. Beautiful post. : D

photomommy said...

Amazing photos this week. That is a beautiful tradition. :)

Indrani said...

Such a lovely post, Chris! Wonderful story and you have shared a lot. The pictures are great. Happy Christmas!

Michelle said...

Christmas lights are my favorite part of Christmas time.

MomOf3 said...

What a wonderful tradition! You get to celebrate your heritage and Christmas. Your daughter is beautiful! :)

scrappysue said...

nice tradition :)
i love sitting in the room with only the christmas tree for light

Pam Emmons said...

I miss this little program. Can't wait to see it again. And Emma is adorable dressed up, but I will forever think of Jordan when I hear this story.

Bren said...

Wow, she looks like an angel! What a wonderful tradition.

Amazing photos, Chris!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

oh my daughter was just studying this at Preschool!

Lorina said...

I am loving those photos.. Great tradition.

Corey~living and loving said...

I am stunned with this great post. The photos are so heartwarming, and the tradition of it all nourishes my soul. thank you!
happy PSF!

Maggie May said...

That is really fascinating and I first came across St Lucia on another post of a Swedish descent blogging friend. Great pictures, lovely tradition.

Kimber said...

What a wonderful tradition and some awesome photos.

Steph said...

Those pictures of your girls are fantastic. They brought me to tears. I had never heard of St Lucia. Absolutely beautiful.

I just love reading your blog Chris. It brings a smile to my face and heart every time. You are such a good person. I feel priveledged to know you if only through blogging.

Jenners said...

Visiting from Photo Story Friday...

I always look forward to seeing your PSF posts...last week was the leg lamp and now this gorgeous post. What a great tradition and the photos (and the subjects!) are gorgeous!

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Follow the light, in every way. Beautiful thoughts and sentiments Chris.

Karin said...

What a wonderful tradition and I think it is great that you make the effort to pay attention to the traditions of your ancestors. Beautiful pictures too!

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

awesome post! beautiful pictures!

rachael said...

this was beautiful...

ladyfi said...

Lovely photos. I'm a Brit living in Sweden, so have celebrated many a Lucia. You might like to read more about my take on it here:

http://ladyfi.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/light-in-her-hair/

Amanda D said...

Beautiful pictures and a great tradition.

Robyn said...

What a wonderful tradition. I hadn't heard of that one before. I love your photos, beautiful.

Krystyn said...

What a fun tradition. And, a beautiful way to share it with your family.