This tradition actually comes from southern Sweden, but has been happily embraced and adopted by children in Denmark.
The festival celebrates a martyr, Sancta Lucia, and features a stunning procession of girls dressed in white carrying candles in their hands. The procession is accompanied by the Lucia song, and headed by the Lucia Queen, who wears a crown of candles on her head.
St. Lucia’s Day is a fusion of several traditions. A variant is that Lucia distributed food to the beggars in time for the New Year’s fast, which started on the 13th of December in what was then Catholic Sweden. Lucia had to bear the candles on her head because she needed to use both hands to carry the food.
The festival is celebrated through numerous candle walks, but the best of them must be the lighted kayaks procession along the Nyhavn canal
Every year on December 13, as soon as the night gloom sets in, hundreds of brightly-lighted kayaks appear on the surface of the Nyhavn canal. Kayakers, typically wearing Santa's hats, float peacefully along the waterway chanting about Saint Lucia. This is the highlight of Saint Lucia Day celebration in Copenhagen, designed to commemorate the 3d century saint from Sicily. The festival is popular among a range of Scandinavian countries. It first originated in Sweden in 1927 and was borrowed by the Danes in 1944.
One of the numerous legends about Saint Lucia says she used to feed the poor during the Lent that started precisely on December 13. She had to carry candles on her head for she needed both of her hands to feed the hungry. That explains other widely popular processions that take place during the festive day. Girls dressed in the white walk with candles in their hands and sing the Lucia song. They are always led by the Lucia Queen, whose main attribute is a crown made of candles.
Lights and fires bear symbolic meaning. When St Lucia devoted herself to God, she was determined to preserve her virginity. Nobody, including executives, could break her, so she was sentenced to be burnt. By a kind of miracle, the fire couldn't hurt her, and at last, she was beheaded with a sword. In present-day celebration, miraculous fires bring light, hope, and strength to people for the darkest and coldest months in a year. -
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