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Airdate: Dec 11, 2014
Scientist: Linda Anderson

Santa Lucia - History

Santa Lucia - History
The ancient legends of Santa Lucia are still embraced by the Swedish culture, with rituals of light in the darkness of winter.

Santa Lucia - HistoryMusic: Swedish folk tunes This week, Swedish-American girls enact a unique coming-of-age ritual. One that involves sweet breakfast bread, and a glowing crown made of candles. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. It's called Saint Lucia's Day, and it's celebrated each year during the early hours of December thirteenth. As an only daughter, Linda Anderson remembers being her family's Lucia. Now she shares this Swedish holiday with her own daughters. Anderson: The tradition is for the eldest daughter to dress in a gown of white, with a red sash and a crown of lit candles in her hair, to serve coffee and - what I know as 'Lucia Bullar', but what some people call 'Lucia Kattar' and those are little saffron bread - sweet rolls that are served with coffee in the morning. And the darkness of the house is awakened to the light of Lucia and the smell of this wonderful tasting bread and coffee.The original Santa Lucia was a Christian martyr, burned at the stake around the year 304. A later Swedish legend depicts a glowing figure of Lucia which appears on a lake during a terrible famine, offering food to the starving poor. Well, since that time in Sweden, Lucia has been associated with light.Anderson: According to the Julian calendar from the Middle Ages, December 13th was the longest night of the year - was the solstice - and that's why it makes sense that Lucia would come on that night because what she does is she brings light into the darkness of winter's night. We'll hear more about the Swedish tradition of Santa Lucia's Day in our next program. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.