VIDEO: How Sweden celebrated Lucia in a pandemic

The annual Lucia processions, one of the high points of the Christmas season in Sweden, were cancelled this year. But that didn't stop Swedes finding ways to celebrate.

VIDEO: How Sweden celebrated Lucia in a pandemic
If you missed out on the usual celebrations, catch up with these digital versions. File photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

This year, December 13th, the festival of Saint Lucy or Sankta Lucia, fell on a Sunday. Normally the day is marked with choral concerts and processions of singers in churches, city centres, schools and offices, accompanied with mulled wine or coffee and saffron buns.

Here's how the celebrations were adapted.

Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden's biggest, put on a digital concert, where the singers were carefully socially distanced, as did Lund Cathedral. 


Sweden's official website, which is run by the Swedish Institute, the tourism agency Visit Sweden, and the Swedish government live-streamed a performance put on by students at Adolf Frederik's Musikklasser, a renowned Stockholm music school. 

Swedish state news channel SVT broadcast from Jukkasjärvi in Lapland, with a concert interspersed with pre-recorded segments. 

Students at schools across Sweden gave socially distanced Lucia concerts on Friday. Here are the two sets of classes from Adolf Frederik's Musikklasser.

Individual families also found their own socially-distanced ways of celebrating. Here's Sweden's Prince Carl Philip, Princess Sofia, and their children Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel celebrating the third advent weekend without their extended family. 

Photo: Swedish Royal Court

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Norwegian kindergarten drops Lucia event over paparazzi parents

A childcare centre in Norway has changed its traditional plans for a Lucia procession, citing trouble from snap-happy parents.

Norwegian kindergarten drops Lucia event over paparazzi parents
Photo: bzzup/Depositphotos

Like in neighbouring Sweden, St. Lucy, a Catholic saint martyred in 304 AD, is often celebrated in early morning ceremonies on December 13th.

The Lucia processions usually involve wearing a white dress and a candle-wreath for headgear, and are accompanied by early morning servings of glögg (sweet mulled wine), buns and ginger snaps.

But such is the desperation of parents to get a good photo of their child in the procession, a kindergarten (barnehage) in Stange, Hedmark county has decided to instead celebrate with a simpler light festival, NRK reports.

A specific incident at the childcare facility seven years ago is closely connected to the decision, according to the report.

“There were chaotic scenes on that occasion,” Merete Nilssen, director of the Utsikten kindergarten, told NRK.

Parents pushing forward to get photos of their kids caused such a commotion that the pre-school children began to cry, according to the account.

Since then, a ‘light festival’ has replaced the Lucia procession as the December 13th ceremony. An attempt on one occasion to create more space by having the procession outside proved unsuccessful.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (Utdanningsdirektoratet) supports the decision, noting children have a right to privacy, NRK writes.

“In a time when everything has to be documented, it’s okay to remind people that nothing is better than the real experience, the (education directorate) urges,” the authority’s Lars Kvenshagen Gimse said to the broadcaster.

READ ALSO: This is how much people spend on Christmas presents in Norway