I know I’m behind in Christmas decorating, shopping and my annual holiday letter- compared to everyone else around my neighborhood. Most people put up their house lights and their tree right after Thanksgiving, and will take them down right after Christmas.
But growing up in a Swedish community meant that the Christmas season was from Dec. 13, which is St. Lucia’s Day, to January 13, St. Knut’s Day, when you take down your Christmas tree. And I still stick to this time frame because it was a tradition in my family, and for the last several generations. It just makes me feel good to remember my Swedish grandparent’s custom and how their living room was decorated this special month.
Here’s an entry from Butter in Well that tells about the start of the Christmas season for “us Swedes”.
December 13, 1868– At home in Sweden the Christmas season starts today on Saint Lucia’s Day. When I was living at home, Sara, my oldest sister, would wake us up early with coffee and cakes in bed. She wore the traditional white robe, crimson sash and a crown of lighted candles that illuminated the dark to represent Saint Lucia, the patron saint of Sweden. Special food was prepared for the holiday season. Fader was in charge of the meats and Moder baked enough pastries for us and anyone who came to visit. The smörgåsbord on Christmas Eve was loaded with the traditional Christmas dishes. Seemed like we had barely gone to bed when it was time to rise and walk to Julotta. The rest of the day was spent quietly at home with our family. We would open our gifts, handmade items that everyone had secretly worked on for weeks before Christmas. I remember the ljus krona that sat on the corner table in the living room of my parent’s home. The tree, carved out of wood, was wrapped in white paper and had small handmade candles tied to its branches. Each branch represents a member of the family. It was my favorite Christmas decoration. Now I feel homesick. (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, ©Linda K. Hubalek)
I hope you’re remembering special people and traditions this month too. I’m starting my Christmas season today!