The story of Lucia, the symbol of light amid the darkness for Sweden, has many different versions. Although her feast day is celebrated on December 13th in Sweden, Lindsborg celebrates Lucia Day on the second Saturday in December. Lucia was born far away in southern Italy, in the third century A.D. It is said that after seeing her mother miraculously healed, she made a vow never to marry and to give the money that would have been her dowry to the poor. She refused to marry the man her family had chosen for her and some say he denounced her for her faith and was responsible for having her put to death. She died a martyr's death in 303 A.D.
How the story of Lucia came to be such an important part of Swedish culture is somewhat of a mystery. Did the Vikings know of her and brought the legend to the North? Did monks tell of her martyrdom? It is not clear how Lucia from Sicily became Sweden's beacon of light during the darkest period of the year, though one legend popular among Swedish Americans tell of a woman dressed in white standing in the bow of a boat crossing Lake V?nern. She was bringing food to the people of V?rmland, who were dying of hunger during a famine many years ago. They say she wore a wreath in her hair, crowned with a ring of lighted candles. To this day, December 13th is one of the high points of the season and candles are lit all over Sweden to bear light against the darkness, as Lucia did.
Early in the morning of December 13th, the oldest daughter in the family in Sweden has the privilege of being the Lucia, wearing a long white gown sashed in red, with a wreath of lingonberry leaves on her hair. Candles - now usually run on batteries - are set into the wreath. Her sisters wear white gowns with tinsel in their hair and around their waists. Boys in the family wear tall pointed hats with stars on them. The "Starboys" traditionally are associated with wise men. The children awaken their parents and offer them coffee, saffron-flavored buns called Lussekatter and ginger snaps, called pepparkakor. Lucia progams are held in schools, businesses and at public gatherings.