XIII: lucia

For some reason I can’t quite fathom, some waldorf schools in other parts of the world celebrate Santa Lucia (or Saint Lucy’s day). I’m not sure what indications Steiner might have given, because I haven’t found any. I’ve picked a couple of random Lucia posts from non-Nordic waldorf schools. Here’s Emerson waldorf:

December 13 is Santa Lucia Day. The 7th and 2nd grades lead this beautiful festival, which is based on a story from Sweden. Lucia was a pubescent girl who was innocent and pure of heart. During a particularly harsh winter (and after a very poor harvest), the people of Sweden were starving and freezing to death. Lucia was moved to venture out into the snow to bring a message of hope to the people who were suffering. Filled with the light of God’s spirit, she made her way across the frozen lakes and hills bringing food to the starving and filling their despairing hearts with the light and warmth of God’s love. The oldest 7th grade girl dresses in white with a beautiful crown on her head and leads a procession of 7th and 2nd graders, also dressed in white. They visit every classroom in the school with warm buns to eat, symbolizing warmth and light in this cold, dark season. [Source.]

A waldorf school in British Columbia writes:

According to the old Julian calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year. The ancient people were very much aware of the diminishing daylight and feared the cold and hunger that accompanied the sun’s decline. Men yearned for a friendly spirit to intercede, restoring the light to the earth. Over many centuries, this spirit of light became personified in St. Lucia, the Queen of Light. In the present day, St. Lucia’s Day is most commonly celebrated in Sweden. “Lucia,” usually the eldest daughter who comes singing the ancient Sicilian song “Santa Lucia,” awakens families all over Sweden. Dressed in white and wearing a crown of lighted candles, she presents saffron buns and Christmas cookies to members of the family. Traditionally, Class 2 and Class 8 lead a Santa Lucia celebration for the whole school. [Source.]

It’s celebrated in Hawaii. In Toronto. In Austin, Texas. How this Nordic tradition has spread like this to northern America is beyond me. I guess someone must have brought it there at some point. I noticed some German waldorf schools (and at least on branch of the Christian Community in Germany) holds Lucia celebrations too. That may be the link, for all I know.

Nothing to do with waldorf, but here’s an older recording of a swedish Lucia tune, Staffansvisan. (Staffan, or Stefan, was another saint.) Most of the songs of this celebration are quite solemn; this one’s happier.



2 thoughts on “XIII: lucia

  1. Hi. I came about your blog after a baffling visit to our local Waldorf school left me in search of “clairvoyant insight”;} into the nature of Anthroposophy. I feel very fortunate that there are people writing about Waldorf-Steiner education in a candid and critical way! it has been very helpful in ruling out Waldorf education for our family. Thanks.
    I remember learning about St. Lucia Day in the fourth grade of my public school. I think it is one of the very few references to Nordic culture in my American education. One of the girls in our class dressed as St. Lucia with a battery operated wreath of candles on her head. I think it’s popularity in America in general is due to our fascination with Christmas/Winter festivities around the world. Christmas was one of the few times in elementary school where I remember multiculturalism playing a role. It was as if there were only two types of Countries … those which celebrated Christmas, and those which did not.
    Another thing that may have popularized the idea of St. Lucia day with American children was the American Girl historical doll and book series. There was at one time a doll named “Kirsten”- a nineteenth century Swedish immigrant. She could be purchased with an optional St. Lucia accessory set which included a life-size head garland for you! The lucky girl in our class who played St. Lucia owned this doll and all of her corresponding accessories – very expensive, and plastic … Steiner would not approve.

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