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European Royals

Royalty and St. Lucia’s Day


Photo: HRH Crown Princess Victoria, Royal Court, Sweden

The 13th of December is St. Lucia’s Day and traditionally was celebrated in the holiday season. While it is a less popular holiday in the United Kingdom and North America, it is still widely celebrated in Scandinavia and Northern Italy. Like many other Scandinavian families, the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian royal families all observe St. Lucia’s Day in December. 

St. Lucia’s Day (also known as St. Lucy’s Day) is celebrated on 13th December. Lucia of Syracuse was a fourth-century martyr who was known for bringing food and supplies to Christians in hiding. Her crown of lights is specific to her – she wore a wreath of candles on her head to bring light to those hidden in the Roman catacombs and keep her hands free. 

In modern St. Lucia’s Day celebrations, a girl (typically the eldest girl in the family) dresses in a white robe with a wreath of candles on her head and serves coffee and baked goods to the family and visitors. In communities and churches, a girl is elected to serve as Lucia for the bigger group, considered a notable honour. The elected Lucia will visit seniors’ homes and schools to give baking to the young and old. 

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The Scandinavian royal families all regularly take part in St. Lucia’s Day celebrations. In Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria took part as a child, playing the Lucia herself with a young Prince Carl Philip helping. 

The Crown Princess has passed on her wreath, though. Her daughter Princess Estelle, with help from Prince Oscar, was the Lucia in 2018, complete with a wreath of lights and baked goods. 

A future Queen Margrethe II was Sanka Lucia (as she is known in Denmark) in 1946 with a traditional crown of candles. (Battery operated lights are most common now.) A young Princess Benedikte is a helpful angel to her sister. 

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The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway also take part in St. Lucia’s Day celebrations. In 2018, they attended local St. Lucia’s Day celebrations and visited an elderly care home after taking part in a Lucia parade at a primary school. 

Although their celebrations are not identical, the Scandinavian royal families all observe St. Lucia’s Day on 13 December. 

About author

Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com