On December 13th, one of the shortest days of winter, girls in Sweden dress up as Santa Lucia wearing a white dress and a crown of candles . Boys carry a candle and wear a kind of white pyjama. They wear hats that are pointy with golden stars on them.
In Sweden we do not wear candles anymore because before girls caught their hair on fire very often. Today we use modern candles with batteries in them.
After lunch most schools close on Santa Lucia day around noon. It is a national holiday which comes on the 13th of December. There are also special foods for Lucia's Day like spicy gingerbread biscuits（姜饼）. In big cities in Sweden there are beauty contests where some women dress up as Santa Lucia and the judges and the people vote for the Santa Lucia of the year. In schools people sing Santa Lucia's song. The words in Swedish and English are in the right-hand column.
Who was Saint Lucia?
Saint Lucia was a saint because of her kindness and her love. She was an Italian Christian who lived in Sicily in the 4th century. Some people believe she once visited Sweden. December 13th is also her feast day.
The way she became a saint was that a man who loved her and Lucia didn't like him, Lucia's mother asked her to marry the man but she refused so the man heard about this and he said he would burn her. But Lucia prayed to God to have the power to survive the fire. Because of her kindness to others her wish was granted. The man tried to burn her but she had the power to withstand fire so the man got a sword and stuck it into Lucia's throat. Still Lucia survived for three more hours speaking beautiful words.
There is also another story for her being a saint which goes like this.
Saint Lucia was a very kind person and there was a man who loved her very much but she didn't like him very much. The thing the man loved most about Saint Lucia was her eyes. Then she gave him her eyes but a miracle happened she grew back her eyes but this time they were even more beautiful then ever. The man asked for those eyes but she refused to give them so the man wanted to kill her and he killed her with a knife into her heart.
Song for Santa Lucia (English Version)
The night goes with weighty step round yard and round earth. The sun's departure leaves the woods brooding. There in our dark house, appears with lighted candles Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
The night goes great and mute. Now one hears its wings in every silent room murmuring as if from wings. Look at our threshold. There she stands white-clad with lights in her hair Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia
The darkness shall soon depart from the earth's valleys thus she speaks a wonderful word to us. The day shall rise anew from the rosy sky. Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.