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World Advent Calendar

by Mandy Barrow

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Why is today an important day in Sweden?

Why is it a light occasion?


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St. Lucia

December 13 is an important day with the celebration of St. Lucia Day, also known as the Festival of Lights.

It is a celebration of a strong woman, named Lucia who lived a long time ago and brought light to the cold Swedish winter. Her name actually means "light." Some believe she glowed and had a halo.

With thanks to Annika Blight and 3/4 B at Epsom Downs Primary School and Children's Centre for providing the photographs and information for this page

tree A long time ago Sweden used a different calendar and the darkest night was the night between the 12th and 13th December.

tree People put an Advent star in the window as well as a candle stick with 7 candles. Nearly every home in Sweden will have both of these from the first of Advent.

Advent Star
Advent Star

tree Advent StickFamilies in Sweden light an Advent candle stick every Advent Sunday. The first candle is lit on the first Sunday in Advent, the second on the second Sunday and so on.

On 13 December, the oldest girl in the family dresses up as St. Lucia in a white dress with a wreath of candles on her head. She serves coffee and lussekatts (saffron buns) or pepparkakor (ginger cookies with spices) to her parents.

A traditional song is sung:

Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing
Through darkest winter night, comfort bestowing.
Dreams float on dreams tonight,
Comes then the morning light,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.

Lucia is also celebrated in schools, communities and work places. A girl is chosen to represent St. Lucia in a procession. She is dressed in a long white dress with a large red sash. Upon her head she wears a crown of green leaves and 5, 6 or 7 glowing candles. In her hands she carries a tray of little saffron flavoured buns called lussekatts and pepparkakor (ginger cookies with spices). She is followed by younger girls, also in white, carrying candles and boys in tall pointed hats.

3/4 B at Epsom Downs Primary School and Children's Centre

tree The boys in the pointed hats are called star boys, their leader is Staffan who is believed to have been a stable boy for King Herod. He heard about Jesus being born, went to tell King Herod who didn't believe him and destroyed Staffan's eyes.

Swedish children remember that Jesus lay in a manger of straw by making many of their Christmas decorations from straw.

In Sweden, presents are given out on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day.

Father Christmas (Santa) is called Jultomten.
Goats, not reindeers, pull Father Christmas Sleigh in Sweden.

Jultomten comes on Christmas Eve. Afterwards children dance around the Christmas tree before opening their presents.

Christmas presents in Sweden are known as "Christmas knocks" (julklapp). The name originates from the way Christmas presents were delivered many years ago.

To deliver a present on Christmas night, you would tiptoe up to the door of the recipient, knock hard and then throw the present inside, without being seen.

Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. They eat a lot of pork (pig) for the Christmas meal. They eat boiled pork sausage, pork brawn, cold roast spare ribs and pigs trotters. They also eat raw fish (yuk) and a special fish in mustard sauce.

For pudding (dessert) they eat a delicious rice pudding (just like the other Scandinavian countries).

tree People go to church, julotta, early on Christmas Day. The church is lit up by candle light. There are also lots of candles outside to help people find the way to the church.

The final celebration of the Christmas season takes place on St. Knut's Day (Tjugondag Knut), 13 January, 20 days after Christmas.

St. Knut's Day is the traditional day to get rid of all the Christmas decorations and to throw out the tree, thus ending the Christmas season.

People in Sweden dance Christmas out on St. Knut's Day. They hold a special party known as julgransplundring ('the plundering of the tree') During the party, any chocolates left hanging on the christmas tree are eaten and the tree is danced around for one last time.
Family and friends are invited to the party and every child goes home with a goody bag.

A traditional song sung on St. Knut's Day is:

Nu är glada julen slut, slut, slut.
(Now the merry Christmas is over, over, over,)
Julegranen bäres ut, ut, ut.
( The Christmas tree is carried out, out, out,)
Men till nästa jul igen,
(But for next Christmas again,)
kommer han vår gamle vän,
( He is coming our old friend)
för det har han lovat.
( Because he has promised that.)

Find out facts about Sweden

12 days till Christmas!

England is cold and frosty at the moment.

Frost on car Close up on the ice
Frost (ice) on a car
Close up of the ice

I wonder, if it will ever snow this year?

When do we take down the Christmas decoration in England?

Advent Calendar

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Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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