In December, Scandinavia Shines Bright
December in Scandinavia: The days get shorter and the sun sets by 2pm. At home, Scandinavians turn on a multitude of lights (in all shapes and sizes) to beat the winter blues, creating a warm and inviting ambiance.
Here is the rundown on the best and most beautiful Scandinavian traditions!
In Sweden, December 13th is the longest night of the year. Since the 18th-century, Swedes have celebrated Saint Lucia’s Day (Sankta Lucia in Swedish means “light”). According to tradition, Lucia represents the light and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. During the celebration, you can see with young girls dressed in white parading the streets of Stockholm with a crown embellished with four lighted candles placed on their head.
During the parade, the girls distribute coffee and pepparkakor: Swedish ginger or saffron cookies. Sometimes they are also served with Glögg, a spiced wine, while the choir sings traditional songs.
In the evening, the festivities continue with the traditional Sankta Lucia song.
Pssst! Give our Glögg cocktail recipe a try, straight from the heart of Scandinavia, or sip it as a classic herbal tea!
The origins of the Swedish 7-branch candelabra
Lights decorate homes during the holiday season! Strings of lights on the walls and tree, loads of candles placed on the furniture, and especially the 7-branch candelabra on their windowsill. Traditionally, the base is wooden, and each of the seven candles are lit every day at sunset. Today, the electric version is the most widely used because it’s safer!
But why 7 ?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no religious tie. In fact, the candelabra was created because of an electrical difficulty!
Up until 1930, the tradition was to light one candle on each Sunday of Advent, on a 4-branch candelabra.
In 1930, the brand Philips made the first electrical Christmas lights for the tree. They were made up of 9 bases for 9 lightbulbs, but they quickly noticed that the intense heat from the high voltage melted the bases!
That’s when Oscar Andersson, the inventor of the 7-branch Advent candelabra, came in.
While he was working as a Philips shop manager, Andersson had the bright idea of replacing the wax candles on the traditional candelabra with electric ones. His prototype was an old wooden candle holder on which he replaced seven wax candles with seven electric candles, which he then presented to his boss.
At the time, his boss didn’t believe in his project, believing that Swedes wouldn’t make the change so easily from traditional wax candles to electric ones! Even so, Andersson’s candelabra was a huge hit in his neighborhood. Everyone was blown away by the idea that it could be placed next to curtains without sparking a fire! Today, about 1 million candelabras are sold every year. Thanks Mr. Andersson!
A fire-and-ice candle!
We’ve already established that Swedes love do-it-yourself decorations. One of our favorites on the long list of DIY ideas is the ice lantern. Yep, we’re not kidding, we’re talking about a candle holder made of ice in which you can place a candle! Once they make the candle holder they place it outside (makes sense since it’s 15°F!) at their front door.
Best places to celebrate and see a parade for Saint Lucia :
Stockholm : Storkyrkan Cathedral, l’Adolf Fredrik Church, St. James’s Church and Skansen, the open-air museum
Would you like to see Stockholm under a blanket of snow?
Enjoy this great city’s snowy landscapes on this Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/stockholm_insta/