Schwedische Botschaft Wien annual candlelit Lucia procession Servare et Manere

SeM Secretary-General took a part in the traditional Swedish candlelit Lucia procession

Bratislava, December 14, 2022. On the occasion of St. Lucia Day, the Ambassador of Sweden to the Slovak Republic, Her Excellency Mrs. Annika Markovic, was invited SeM Secretary-General at a traditional St. Lucia procession and Christmas concert performed by Adolf Fredrik’s Music School in Stockholm called “the Swedish Choral Miracle”. The procession and concert in the Hall of Mirrors in the Primate’s Palace in Bratislava was followed by a reception with typical Swedish Christmas culinary delicacies. On this occasion, Marek Sobola met with several Ambassadors who are already familiar with the activities of Servare et Manere. Although the main project of the association is the international initiative Tree of Peace, Servare et Manere is also involved in other cultural events. One of the important ones was the project of monument, which was the first in Slovakia to be dedicated to the Swedish landscape architect Carl Gustav Swensson. The monument project was carried out under the official auspices of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Vienna.

The annual candlelit Lucia procession on 13 December is perhaps one of the more exotic-looking Swedish customs, with girls and boys clad in white full-length gowns singing songs together. There is a special atmosphere during the event when the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing grows as they enter from an adjacent room. Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear ‘light in her hair’, which means a crown of candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle, too.  The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The Christmas elves bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns. There used to be a competition for the role of Lucia – on national TV as well as on a local level in towns and schools all over the country. Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth. Lucia is an ancient figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to the martyr St Lucia of Syracuse (died in 304) and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife.

Servare et Manere project under the auspices of the Swedish Embassy in Vienna

Carl Gustav Swensson (1861 – 1910) was a Swedish landscape architect. In today’s Slovakia, in 1891, he implemented a project for a park around the Hungarian Wool Fabric, Military Clothing and Blankets Factory in Žilina. In 2021, the largest monument dedicated to Carl Gustav Sensson was unveiled in Žilina, Slovakia in the park with the same name. The naming of the park as well as the construction of the monument was initiated by the NGO Servare et Manere, which interpreted the results of historical research by Marek Sobola to the Town Council of Žilina. The current park partially occupies the area of Swensson’s original conception of the park around the Wool Fabric Factory and has been enriched with an assortment of rarer and rarer tree species, which forms a small exhibition of trees in the country. The current renovation of the park was designed by landscape architect Marek Sobola, Secretary-General of Servare et Manere and co-authors of the monument are Marek Sobola, Michal Janiga and Ján Janík.

Author of text / messages: Marek Sobola
Source of the photo: Marek Sobola
Source of text: https://sweden.se/culture/celebrations/the-lucia-tradition / Servare et Manere