Thursday, December 13, 2007

St. Lucia Day

Today is St. Lucia Day in Sweden. This day was part of the inspiration for our advent worship this year: Advent Saints. Last week, we talked about St. Nicholas. Last night, we had a couple of "Lucias" visit us during the church service.

One of the challenges this advent (besides designing the services, which the intern usually did) has been putting together the monologues and finding costumes for the "visitors" each week. Actually, the monologues have been pretty fun, and perhaps I'll share them with you (Sr. Pastor will write next week's, on Katherina von Bora, Luther's wife.)

So, on Tuesday, I found myself at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, buying two "Lucia Crowns" (inexpensive ones with battery powered lights) for our two young saints.

The American Swedish Institute is housed in an old mansion, built by Swedish immigrant Swan Turnblad at the turn of the last century. He had made a fortune managing a series of Swedish language newspapers. At that time (the Gilded Age) if you made a fortune, you had to build a mansion. Now it is a museum and gathering place for Swedes and others wanting to know more about Sweden and Swedish-American immigrants.

As a girl, I used to usher sometimes on a Saturday, greeting people at the door, and guiding them to the programs they were set to attend. I also sang in a children's chorus. However, I never got to be Lucia for the programs. There was one girl slightly older than me, taller, blonder, and more poised. I would see the wax dripping from her hair and envy her.

When I entered the building on Tuesday afternoon, I had the sense that I was going back in time -- back to those days when I suddenly became obsessed with my Swedish heritage, with my grandparents' immigrant past. I remembered my afternoons spent in the old museum, practicing songs, wandering the halls, wishing to be able to read the Swedish books. I remembered my grandmother, who died when I was 16, and her attempts to teach me a few words, and to tell me a little bit about who she was. I'm not sure we really knew.

She was proud to be an American. She was also proud to be Swedish, and she kept in touch with the family across the ocean. She came across that ocean by herself. So she must have been brave.

I didn't have much time on Tuesday. But after I bought the crowns, I stopped and got a cardomum roll, just for old times sake.

Picture is by Carl Larsson and is in the public domain


Rowan The Dog said...

Fascinating... I am going to have to read up on this.

P.S. an after-thought said...

My dad never taught me any part of my Scandinavian heritage. Too bad. I was an Anderson.

Jan said...

Very nice. Thank you. The picture is wonderful, too.

lj said...

You would have been a wonderful St. Lucia. Maybe it's not too late. You're certainly tall enough now!

Ruby said...

The very ancient little church I attend was originally founded by Swedes, the first settlers of the Little Blue State. The St. Lucia service is one of the loveliest of the year.
I'm sorry you didn't get be Lucia, but I'm sure the waxy hair wasn't that fun.