For a Canadian, I have pretty terrible tolerance for the cold. However, I think there is something uniquely magical about visiting northern places in the winter, because they ARE winter places, and they sparkle during this time of the year. So, when I was given the opportunity to pop over to Stockholm for a few days to meet with my Swedish research collaborators, I jumped at the chance. The last two days have been primarily spent in the office (which happens to also be lovely), and I have a wide open long weekend to do exploring. However, I got to experience a really wonderful cultural tradition while here.
I happened to be here during St. Lucia’s Day celebrations at the Karolinska Institutet, although it is typically celebrated on December 13th. Some (reliable-ish) internet sources say Lucia was a young martyr who would secretly bring food to Christians in Rome hiding in the catacombs, wearing candles on her head so her hands were free.
However, as December 13th marked winter solstice on the Julian calendar, it has become a celebration of light to mark new life in the long, dark Scandinavian winter.
As you can see in this clip, beautiful songs are sung and then later you get to eat Lusskatts (buns flavoured with saffron), ginger snap cookies, and glögg (mulled wine).
Well, I am off to explore the rest of the city – perhaps enjoy the legendary Christmas markets and sample more of the mulled wine.