Chicago holiday celebrations take on a Swedish flavor with the annual tradition Sunday, December 13 at 4:45 pm. As the sun is setting on Clark Street, a parade of white-gowned girls will march through Andersonville, starting at the Swedish American Museum at 5211 N. Clark St. The beauty and joy of this Swedish tradition should not be missed. Here are a few highlights:
The Lucia Girls Procession
Girls armed with candles, red sashes on their white gowns and a crown of lingonberries will glide down Clark Street in an elegant line. At the head of the line will be the official Lucia girl, wearing a crown topped with candles. She symbolizes St. Lucia and leads the way through the winter darkness as the crowd sings carols and the Lucia song.
The St. Lucia Legend
After the procession, the crowd returns to the Swedish Museum for a program of traditional festivities. The most important is the telling of the story of St. Lucia. She was an Italian saint who gave to the poor and homeless around 284 AD. She was executed by the Romans but Germans brought her legend to Sweden during the 17th and 18th centuries, inspiring the first St. Lucia Festival of Lights in Stockholm during the early 20th century.
During the festival, visitors will hear familiar Christmas carols as well as traditional Swedish songs, including the song of St. Lucia. The tunes are sung in Swedish but attendants will translate so that everyone can join in.
No Lucia celebration is complete without the spicy flavor of pepparkakor, traditional ginger flavored cookies. These treats will be served as well as traditional saffron buns and other Swedish baked goods.
Andersonville By Candlelight
One of the most striking sights of the festival is the flickering candles lighting the darkened Andersonville streets. Many shop owners also stand outside their stores with candles, helping to give the whole procession a magical glow.
Photos courtesy of Andersonville Chamber of Commerce