By Diego Recinos
The darkest day in the middle of crude Nordic winter is illuminated by candles and Gregorian chants in honor of Saint Lucia. This tradition adopted by the Scandinavian countries in the middle of the eighteenth century of the Christian era wanted to light, esperanza, consolation and unity to a people who suffered the hard onslaught of snow and cold in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world.
The church was dark, trumpeted silence in the vast nave of the Church of Santa Eugenia, where parishioners waited expectantly by candlelight in Saint Lucia. Nobody moved, there were no more spaces. mens, women, children, girls, elderly and whole families coming from all corners of Sweden waited as one being the input light.
And the light came. A girl dressed in white with a crown of lighted candles was the first in the solemn procession. She was Lucia. Lucia marched with other youth served as escorts. Slowly, They were going up the steps of the high altar. While, on the sides, several young people trained in threes were going towards the same direction. These guys, carrying candles in their hands and their heads were covered with pointy hoods adorned with figures of golden stars and moons.
A arriving all at the altar, the instrumental body began to emanate solemn melodies and voices of Lucy and her young companions flooded the church of Gregorian chants Gorgeous, the candlelight, They left the dauntless and devotees absorbed in an atmosphere of faith and hope.
Light ceremonious rite is part of the celebration known as Lucia. St. Lucia is considered the patron saint of the blind persons or vision problems. They are Catholic churches, Orthodox and Lutheran Scandinavians which celebrate his feast day 13 from December, which according to the Julian calendar (used in Sweden to 1753) it is precisely, Christmas day and the longest night of the year.
"It's a very old tradition of the Catholic era, It ie from the 1520 more or less, and three centuries later have discovered once again ", Dominik dice Terstriep S.J., pastor of the Church of Santa Eugenia.
The celebration is a religious procession composed by a woman representing St. Lucia, and accompanied by several women called “Bridesmaids”. In addition to men called “boys stars”. These make a tour in the spaces of churches, work places, schools and hospitals with their chants in honor of Saint Lucia.
"Here in Sweden the party is very important, because it makes a lot of darkness. It is the darkest time of the year in December, we have around 4 hours of light. At that time St. Lucia who is very striking gleams with light in this country. That is why this cult is still present ", Father expresses Dominik.
Another aspect that adorns the ritual is the dress. Let's start by describing Lucia. The woman is wearing a crown with lighted candles, carefully crimped to a diadem, wearing a long, white robe symbolizing purity and innocence. further, wearing tight hip with a red belt, It is representing the blood of martyrdom. Bridesmaids accompanying lead, too, a white robe but without the crown with candles. Both, They carry a lit candle in hands. The children dressed in white van, with white caps adorned with gilded stars that give a touch of magic to this ceremony. Candles and clothing are related to the meaning of the name of St. Lucia and the winter solstice.
"I think we can form a unit around Santa Lucia, of Christ. We in this community we gather in faith, in the common peace we have. No it matters if somebody comes from El Salvador, Eritrea, or I do not know, Pakistan. Never mind, the important thing is that people have hope and that hope manifested in St. Lucia ", says the pastor Dominik.
The edges end at echo, while Lucia, child star and his companions are withdrawing in a procession. Parishioners applaud and begin to leave inside the illuminated church. smiles, hugs and words of encouragement are heard among families. In a country with a Protestant majority and merely individualistic, This celebration offers something different: Faith and hope.
"This is a Protestant country, Lutheran and a Catholic minority have, but also Protestants celebrate Saint Lucia. It is an exceptional case. There is no other Protestant country where this happens ", Dominik finaliza Terstriep.