Celebrating holidays from around the world is a fun and exciting way to learn about the various cultures, traditions, and special foods of the wide array people with whom we share our earth. It’s a painless way to introduce geography, and it makes multiculturalism pleasurable. Who doesn’t enjoy having another reason to celebrate? And if it involves delicious foods – and most celebrations do – that makes it even better.
We recently read a series of books about a family of Swedish immigrants living on the American frontier (You can find the first book in the series HERE). One of the things that captivated my 6-year-olds imagination while reading this book was the St. Lucia Day celebration. The idea of a special breakfast lit by festive candles during the darkest days of the year sounded delightful to him.
So we checked out and read several other books from the library on St. Lucia Day, which helped us to learn more about the tradition as well as about other wintertime Swedish traditions. St. Lucia Day is a celebration of light that used to correspond with the winter solstice but is now celebrated on 13 December. It’s part of Swedish ritual that a big St. Lucia Day festivity will help to bring people enough light to live through the long, dark days of winter. This holiday also rings in the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.
My son made himself a St. Lucia crown out of paper, using his own designs to make paper leaves and candles. He pulled together the makings of a costume (white pants from his Nutcracker costume, a white blouse of mine, and a red play silk to use as a sash). He made a paper candle to use on his tray along with the buns. And he helped me to prepare the St. Lucia Buns that he would use on the special breakfast tray.
We talked about how Sweden is very far north, and that their days are even shorter than ours during this time of the year. We discussed how important it would be during that dark time of the year to celebrate the coming of the light (the solstice is only a few days away!), and how lovely it must be during those dark and lonely days, especially when it was harder to travel between farms, to have these celebrations to look forward to.
This celebration was new to all of us, and we all had fun learning about this tradition, eating a delicious new food, and watching my 6-year-old undertake his preparations for our little merriment. We’ll definitely be celebrating more world holidays as the years progress.