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Ridge kids tap into Swedish tradition • Brooklyn Paper

Ridge kids tap into Swedish tradition

Shalia Dabila, 10, dons a wreath of candles around her head for Lucia Day — a Swedish holiday celebrated on Dec. 13 — during the Santa Lucia procession at the Christ Church After School Center in Bay Ridge.
Photo by Bess Adler

Ridge kids relived an ancient Swedish tradition last Tuesday — tapping into the neighborhood’s well-known Scandinavian history.

Fifteen students of the Christ Church After School program participated in an annual celebration of Lucia Day — a Swedish holiday celebrating light and dark.

The holiday, which stretches back centuries, is celebrated on Dec. 13 — which used to be the shortest day of the year, said Victoria Hofmo, of Christ Church After School.

“Lucia originally was from Sicily from the fourth century,” she said. “In the old calendar, the 13th used to be the solstice, so it was a very easy pairing of a pagan holiday.”

According to legend, Lucia was blinded for her faith, and so in the celebration, one girl wears a red sash as a symbol of her martyrdom. The oldest girl in the family dons a wreath of candles around her head and carries saffron — known as Lucia — to represent the sun. She is followed by girls and boys dressed as star boys, bakers and a shepherd.

The kids sang in Swedish during the Lucia procession, with boys dressed as elves — known as “tumte,” or troublemakers.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.

(From left) Sally Amro, 10; Shalia Dabila, 10; and Julia Kline, 10, don traditional Scandanavian holiday wear during Lucia Day — a traditional Swedish holiday.
Photo by Bess Adler

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