Santa Lucia Day and Julotta

Celebrate St Lucia Day, experience Lucia dressed in white and with a crown of candles on her head followed by a procession, handmaidens, or tarnor, dressed in white gowns carrying candles and boys also dressed in white gowns and wear tall paper cones on their heads, called “star boys” because they carry stars attached to sticks. Trailing at the end of the procession features children dressed as the gingerbread man and a little santa elf. The procession sings the Lucia song and other Swedish Christmas carols.

Following the Lucia procession, the celebration continues with a smorgosboard of Christmas Swedish treats, served with coffee and soda, dancing around the Christmas tree featuring typical Swedish dances, and at the end Santa will appear to greet all the children.

2020 SAHSWI Zoom Lucia Celebration

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin traditional Lucia Celebration at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church in Hales Corners was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Instead a ZOOM virtual Lucia Celebration was held at 7 PM, Sunday, December 13 (Lucia Day). 

Lucia Celebration at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church

Lucia celebrations have been held at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church every year since 1967. SAHSWI member Sonia Hummel has directed the Lucia Program for many years and she and her family has been involved ever since the inception in 1967.

The program included two YouTube videos, Lucia Celebration in Sweden introduction, and a Lucia Concert from Kungsholm’s Cathedral, Stockholm, Sweden.

SAHSWI board member, Karin Konrad, presented the history of Saint Lucia, and The Lucia buns, Lussekatter. Karin discussed Santa Lucia actually being catholic saint from Syracuse, Sicily, and why Lucia Day is a Swedish celebration.

The name, Lussekatter, means “Lucia cats” and comes from the way the scrolled buns looks like a cat’s tail and the fact that they are common to serve on Saint Lucia day.

2020 Julotta and Elsa Nilsson Lucia concert

“Julotta” is a traditional Swedish church service held early in the morning on Christmas Day. “Jul” is the Swedish word for Christmas, and “otta” is the time just before dawn. The tradition goes back to the Middle Ages, and everyone that could, attended the Julotta. In the Swedish Church Law dated 1686, it is stated that the Julotta should start at 6 AM Christmas Day morning.

The Julotta service has been a part of SAHSWI program for many years, held at the Whitnall Park Lutheran Church. The service this year is cancelled due to the Pandemic. Thanks to the North Park Covenant Church in Chicago a virtual service available through the link below.

Julotta at North Park Covenant Church

SAHSWI celebrated Santa Lucia Day virtually on December 13. During the ZOOM meeting a video was played with a traditional Lucia concert from Kungsholm’s cathedral in Stockholm, Sweden. Recently, our Society was contacted by Elsa Nilsson, offering a different rendition of a Lucia Concert. This is Elsa’s introduction.

“I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. I am writing with a Lucia greeting I am hoping you will share with your network. My name is Elsa Nilsson and I am a flute player from Gothenburg, Sweden, based in New York city for the past 10 years. Every year around Lucia I get incredibly homesick, and can you blame me? Lucia is my favorite of the Swedish holidays! As a child I would be in at least 10 Luciatåg (Lucia processions) every year, and I loved the idea of celebrating the return of light with music at the center.”

Elsa goes on to say that she and her band released an album on Lucia Day with the hope that it is able to spread some light in this dark time. You can listen to this jazz inspired Lucia concert through the link below.

Dark Is Light Is | Elsa Nilsson (

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin wishing you

See the source image
Illustration “Gnomes” Swedish Christmas by Lars Carlsson

2019 Santa Lucia Celebration

The traditional Swedish Santa Lucia was celebrated on December 8 at the Whitnall Park Lutheran Church in Hales Corners. Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin have hosted this festivity for decades and the 2019 version was again an inspiring performance by the children and young men and women singing the Lucia song and Swedish Christmas carols. The program was conducted by member Sonia Hummel. Close to 200 people attended the celebration.
The celebration started with the Lucia procession led by the 2019 SAHSWI Lucia Hannah Cutler and followed by Attendants (Tarnor), Star Boys (Stjarngossar), Gingerbreadmen (Pepparkaksgubbar), and Little Santas (Tomtenissar).

2019 Lucia

The Christmas carols were introduced by Liza Ekstrand. Readings both in Swedish and in English for each Christmas candle in the Lucia crown were included in the program. The English version and reader is shown below.

  1. When the first Christmas candle is burning, we know Christmas is close by. Read by Josie German
  2. When the second Christmas candle is burning, we hear a promise of old that a savior is coming. George Katsekas.
  3. When the 3rd candle is lit we hear the bells of heaven wishing all peace and goodwill. Gianna Inga.
  4. As the 4th candle is lit, we see a beautiful star with promise to all of life eternal. Kirsten Cutler.
  5. At last the little Christmas elf with Christmas tree and lights, are wishing all a joyful and blessed Christmas. Grace Katsekas

After the program a smorgasbord (Julbord) of Swedish Christmas food and sweets shared by attendees were served while the cast of the program performed Swedish Christmas and Folk dances. Then everyone was invited to join in dancing around the Christmas tree. At the end of the day Santa Claus made a surprise visit.

%d bloggers like this: