Dec 13, 2007

Santa Lucia: To Sing And To Shop

Warning: Braggedy-braggy post ahead.

December 13th is Santa Lucia day in Scandinavia, and this morning my boys' school gathered their students in a darkened gym. There they waited until an elected girl, portraying St. Lucy, solemnly walked into the room dressed in white, wearing a crown of candles. She was followed by a procession of other little girls, also wearing white, each holding a single candle. They slowly made their way around the room, while singing hymns to Santa Lucia in their high children's voices.

I have vivid memories of being chosen as a candle girl at my school one year, and how my hands shook as I stood outside the door, waiting to go into the gym. I was fearful of the candle in my hands, and nervously excited about singing to the rest of the school. When the moment finally arrived, I recall being amazed at how quiet and enraptured my fellow students seemed as we entered the room, and what a lovely light the flickering candles cast in the gym. To an 8 year old girl, the experience was oddly moving.

Even though boys play no part in the Santa Lucia procession, I was excited for my children to experience the ceremony for the first time ever this year. What would they think of the singing? And the candles? Would they be overwhelmed by the feelings of peace and joy that I still clearly remember 30 years later, even though they'd be spectators and not participants?

I guess I'll have to ask Benjamin about that, since Christopher ended up being in the procession after all. And no, not as a girl - even though his much contested long hair might cause you to mistake him for one.

You see, recent discoveries apparently have it that, in addition to white-clad angels, Santa Lucia was also followed by a posse of Norwegian stable boys.*

Who knew?

As head stable boy, Christopher ended up singing - solo - in front of the entire school in this year's Lucia production, wearing the typical stable boy outfit of a traditional, knitted sweater, short pants and long red woolen socks.

Judging from his blank expression when I tried to share my own memories of Lucia with him this afternoon, I'm pretty sure he didn't feel all mystical and powerful, either.

He did, however, believe this to be a good first step on the way to his chosen career of "being famous." I guess that's something.

*Equal opportunity taken to a new level, clearly.

****************************************************

In other Christopher news, my the-universe-revolves-around-me-eldest-born-child just came out of bed to ask me if I can drive him to a mall tomorrow and leave him there. He wants to go shopping for his Christmas presents by himself, because "this year I want you to be surprised, not like last year, when you knew all the presents ahead of time".

[Gulp]

That puddle you're standing in is my melting heart.

48 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

What a sweetheart!! he just found the new Christmas Spirit, next level. Great kid.

And it's Santa Lucia day here too. :)

I can picture that 8 year old girl, happy yet nervous in charge of the candle. Awesome story.

Julie
Using My Words

Mrs. G. said...

This post reminds me of my Catholic school days when the girls would crown Mother Mary in May. We would wear white dresses and have daisy crowns, and one lucky girl would carry Mary's crown of roses on a special pillow down the church aisle and place it on her statued head. It was a big deal.

Thank for the lovely visual description of this, despite your son's lackluster reaction, special day.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

My husband's family is Danish and they always celebrated St. Lucia day. I want to do it in my own family, too. I love it!

kim-d said...

Just a quick stop by to say HI HEIDI! I had big computer problems today, so I promise a real comment tomorrow...both on this post and tomorrow's! I'm so relieved to have the problems under control now...it's a little scary how much I depend on this thing!

Aliki2006 said...

That IS sweet! I still remember feeling that way myself--when I could finally get some gifts for my parents without their knowing what they were in advance.

When we were in Sweden in 1986 we saw a St. Lucia ceremony and it was so beautiful...I still remember it.

Valarie said...

Heidi- That does sound like it would be a wonderful and very memorable experience. Christopher sang a solo? That is awesome! If any of my children had to do that you'd be standing in a puddle of their pee. :)

painted maypole said...

i love that he wants to surprise you!

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Your son is a very good boy to appreciate his mother. You've got much to be proud of madam ;)

WorksForMom said...

That melted my butter too. How terribly sweet he is. So young, so kindred already!

Liesl said...

You've got a truly sweet boy there!

Karen MEG said...

Christopher, he just continues to be a star. I bet you're so excited about his shopping trip as well.
Heidi, I could just picture you as that nervous, excited little 8 year old. What a great memory. Hopefully Christopher will remember his turn at this concert with some reverence (you never know !)

Laura said...

I am so excited to see what he buys!

Wonderful post - thanks for sharing!

Sue said...

What a beautiful tradition. I would love to see that. And awwwwwww, what a sweet kid.

ALM said...

How horrible is it that my first thought was: "Shopping Mall?!? By himself!?" I need a vacation someplace calm and safe... Norway?

That's such a great feeling, though, when your kids express caring for you...

Rima said...

THEY HAVE MALLS IN NORWAY???

Next thing you know, it'll be movie theatres and supermarkets. Where must one go to find a decent fjord these days?

jen said...

it's these moments, isn't it? where it all makes so much sense.

Casdok said...

How lovely.

another good thing said...

...posse of stable boys- hah! That's my kind of saint.

the dragonfly said...

That's so sweet that he wants to surprise you. :)

I'd love to see a celebration like that someday..

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Your baby is growning up!! It's hard to watch, isn't it? sigh....

I still can't believe that my first born is trained to fight for our country. I want to go back to the days when CJ wanted to go to the mall all alone.... Now Shmmops just wants to fly in big scary planes without his mommy at his side :-(

Btw, braggedy-brag all you want!!
Hallie
http://wonderfulworldofweiners.blogspot.com/

Kellan said...

Very proud moment indeed. This was a very cool story, Heidi, of your son taking the lead and how one day he sees himself famous - that'd be super cool!! I also loved the mall story of your other son - so sweet! Hope you all have a great weekend - it's finally getting cold here - just in time for Christmas. See you soon. Kellan

hokgardner said...

What a wonderful tradition to have. It sounds magical!

Badness Jones said...

St. Lucia day sounds lovely...and so does your beautiful boy. Don't you wish your kids came with a pause button sometimes? So you could stop them growing up quite so fast?

Cyn said...

So very cool - thanks for sharing this event with us.

We were at Epcot over the weekend and stopped at the Norway pavilion to hear the story-tellers who were telling about holiday traditions in Norway. I thought of you and your family.

Don Mills Diva said...

That is so sweet. It's wonderful when they really start thinking about how to makes others happy. And the Santa Lucia ceremony sounds just lovely.

Who She She said...

I'm reminded of my Catholic schools days and crowning Mary, too. They don't do that anymore, which is a shame. What a beautiful memory. And Christopher sang solo in front of everyone? What a brave boy! (And, BTW, being famous is now considered an official career -- and can be quite lucrative, too!)

carrie said...

I dread the day mine ask for this. . . it's bad enough that I ocassionally let them ride their bikes 1/2 mile to the store!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love the Santa Lucia tradition. We haven't done it here at home but have seen it done several times and it is always beautiful.

I can't wait for the kids to want to buy something for someone else. Meaning something that they don't secretly want themselves. "Sorry, sweeties, but I really don't think daddy wants a talking Spongebob doll." "Oh, thanks, I lOVE this glittery, hot pink, toddler sized hat your father helped you buy for me. Yes, you can borrow it."

The Hotfessional said...

What a sweet, sweet boy. My heart melted a bit too there.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

C might have been all calm and cool about being in the program, but I'm sure he's proud and will remember it always.

So, are you going to let him shop on his own? What are the chances you're getting a video game or trading cards? :-)

Barrie said...

Loved the description of St. Lucia day. Thank you. So, Christopher wants to shop on his own? They do grow up, don't they?

Candy said...

Ohhhh how sweet! (look at this, I'm all gushy like LOL).

Honestly, I felt every one of those moments, and remember the times my kids did the same. Gad, can't you just eat them up sometimes!?

Jennifer said...

I'm pretty sure he didn't feel all mystical and powerful... Ha. I love this. It must be a girl thing.

Has your heart recovered yet from its melting? Aww!

BirdieRoark said...

I vividly remember the first time we kids got to shop alone with out the parents. It was fun to buy things that I knew would be a suprise.

I can't wait to read about what he gets you!

Kathryn said...

That first paragraph brought tears to my eyes. Your description of the dark gym and the girls walking in with candles is breath-taking. It must be beautiful to see.
And your son had a solo! Wow! What a brave boy! You must be so proud. :)
And how sweet is it that your son wants to surprise you for Christmas? My they grow up fast, huh?

gmcountrymama said...

Wow a solo and solo shopping, what a big boy, my heart would have melted also.
The ceremony sounds very lovely.

Amy Y said...

Solo?? Brave boy!! I bet he will be famous one day!!

And shopping alone? wow... I'm sure my heart will be melting when that happens at our house too!!

Kristen said...

I can envision the procession you were a part of in my head, sounds so magical and lovely. Very exciting that your son got to take part:)
How cool that he wants to shop for you, but they sure grow up too fast hey?

shay said...

your whole post made me giggle. Your oldest sounds like my six year old. Fun and intense in a center of the universe kind of a way:)

I love what he said about the presents! Too cute!

MadMad said...

Awwwww!

And can you imagine just leaving him off at the mall? (Hahahahaha! The things they come up with!)

kim-d said...

Just had to let you know, Heidi--my break is over. Hehehe...I discovered I can't NOT blog. I miss everyone too much. I just knew I'd get itchy fingers...I always HAVE to do the thing I tell myself I MUST NOT do. Rebellion issues, do ya suppose? :)

Kellan said...

Hey Heidi - thanks for coming over and congratulating Billy this morning! ANd ... that HAIR! Yes, it needs cut, but he has been wearing in long this last year. My older girls insist that he be allowed to wear it long, as that is what all the older boys are wearing and it is "cool" - I like it when it is kept brushed and not quite so long. Think it's time for a trim - he's not going to be happy. Have a great weekend - see you later. Kellan

Steph said...

Great story. What a sweet, sweet boy you have!

My oldest went shopping in the holiday shop at school and couldn't wait to give us the gifts that she purchased. She was so proud!

Kyla said...

Congrats to your little stable boy!

So are you taking him to the mall?

Alpha DogMa said...

We did our own version of St. Lucia day. Just because I wanted something to look forward in December that required no financial outlay. Also because of that bastard of quaint Christmas traditions: Rick Steves.

I'm jealous that you get to do the real thing.

Cathy said...

Awww... mine still can't be trusted not to blab. So sweet that he wants to surprise you!

SoccerMomofTwo said...

Aww... so sweet. What a wonderful experience for all. And the shopping... sigh, i guess it happens! I haven't gotten there YET

Moxy Jane said...

My oldest daughter, who is 8 and has the middle name of Lucia, decided that she was totally capable of pulling of a St. Lucia's day breakfast...substituting (in the packet) hot chocolate and toast for coffee and buns. However, she was completely unprepared for rising before the sun, so we settled for a St. Lucia's day brunch!

Thanks for sharing such a sweet story...and I wish you much luck with your eldest and his need for autonomy!

MoxyJane
Austin, TX