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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Sweden Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 6, Saint Lucia. In Swedish, it’s called Lucia.
Lucia is a holiday that is celebrated each year on December 13 during the Christmas season. The holiday originates from both Scandinavia and Sicily.
In this lesson you will learn about why people celebrate Lucia and, specifically, the origins of how it's celebrated in Sweden.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?:
Do you know what it's called when you dress up as Lucia, sing different Lucia songs, and hand out saffron buns and mulled wine to parents and neighbors?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Lucia was a saint from Sicily, or Sicilien, who died a martyr. She was arrested by the Emperor Diocletian who persecuted Christians. Legend has it that Lucia carried down food to the prisoners, and to be able to see better, she wore candles on her head. She was sentenced to work at the brothel, but she refused, froze to the ground, and could not be moved. They decided to pour hot oil on her, but the oil didn’t hurt her at all. Eventually someone decided to stab her with a sword, but she survived that attack too. She finally died when they gave her the Extreme Unction.
In Sweden, December 13 was seen as a dangerous night, because it was thought that many supernatural forces, or övernaturliga makter, were in motion, and people even believed that animals could also speak during Lucia night, or lucianatten. There is almost no connection between the Saint Lucia and the Swedish Lucia celebration. The name of the celebration was attached more recently than the actual celebration itself. In Sweden, the celebrations of this specific day probably began somewhere in Western Sweden, and have spread since then across the country.
Nowadays Lucia is, for example, celebrated in Swedish schools where the children often select a girl to be Lucia, while the other girls are maids, or tärnor. Lucia is dressed up in a white gown, with candles in her hair and a red silk sash. Lucia, the maids, and the star boys then sing Lucia songs for the rest of the school. This event is called a Lucia train, or luciatåg. There is also one Lucia selected in each municipality and one girl becomes Sweden's Lucia, or Sveriges lucia.
A typical bun that is eaten on this day is the saffron bun, or lussekatt. It’s made mainly out of plain flour and is often in the shape of an eight, with Raisins, or russin in the center of the circles.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question.
Do you know what it's called when you dress up for Lucia, sing different Lucia songs, and hand out saffron buns and mulled wine to parents and neighbors?
It’s called Lussa! It is common for children to dress up as Lucia and maids, and bring their parents a Lucia breakfast early in the morning with the typical saffron bun.
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you celebrate anything similar in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!