Lussi b 2

Happy St Lucy’s day everyone! Here’s a nice and fresh drawing for you in celebration of one of the most important, and also quite bizarre, holidays in Sweden.

 

Lussi b

Lussi (c) Aurora

Wearing a crown of lit candles on your head is bizarre to start with (not only because you get a lot of candle wax stuck in your hair even though you’ve covered the top of your head with a wet cloth to prevent your glorious tresses from burning up. Been there, done that). And yet, seeing or participating in the singing, white-clad candle procession in the dark morning hours can be a very moving and ethereal experience – most of all for a child anticipating Christmas.

What few people know today, though, is that the Scandinavian and particularly Swedish celebration of St Lucy – or Lucia as she is called here and in her native Italy, was predated by Lussinatta. Lussi was a demon or witch who bore none of the traits that we associate with the benevolent, light-bringing saint of the past  two centuries. (The first Lucia procession bearing any resemblance to the one we know today is supposed to have occured in late 18th century Sweden.) Lussi was said to ride through the air with her following during Lussi night, threatening to come down the chimney and take away misbehaving children, not unlike the Krampus of German mythology. All sorts of evil spirits, ghosts, ghouls and trolls were particularly active during this night, so a wise person would better stay inside. Many stayed awake through the Lussi night to guard themselves and their households against evil – a tradition called Lussevaka, which in later years has evolved into throwing parties where young people get out in the night drinking themselves senseless, the girls often with glitter wreaths adorning their intoxicated little heads.

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Sources: Kamratposten, Wikipedia