Lucia – a holiday of lights and music

Lucia is a Swedish holiday always celebrated on Dec. 13 to spread joy and light in a dark winter night.
In every community, every city and every school, people vote for the girl with the longest blonde hair (sometimes long, dark hair, but most people prefer blonde) to be the Lucia of the Year. The girls who are not chosen become the followers of the Lucia, together with the boys.
The followers of the Lucia are dressed in long white dresses, and the girls carry a candle in their hands and a string of glitter around their waist and in their hair. The boys carry a cone like hat and a star on a stick. The Lucia also wears a long white dress, but carries seven candles in a crown on the top of her head and she has a red ribbon around her waist instead of glitter.
The “Lucia-train” as it is called, normally visits homes for the elderly, schools, hospitals and churches. There they sing Lucia songs and some Christmas songs as well as recite poems.
The tradition to celebrate Lucia comes originally from Italy. Lucia was a Catholic saint who was killed because of her religion on Dec. 13 in 304 AD. The red ribbon Lucia wears around her waist represents the blood from when she was killed.
Every year, the Swedish Church in Manhattan arranges a Lucia celebration for all the Swedish people in New York and everyone else who would like to enjoy a part of the Swedish culture.