On Sunday December 13, Swedish St Lucia Day was celebrated at the Christmas Fair of the Shanghai Center. A Swedish-Chinese Lucia procession with singing and candlelight was held for the hundreds of people including around 30 Swedish alumni that had gathered. The event was organized by the Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai with Swedish and local partners aiming to bring Swedish traditions to Shanghai and to celebrate the end of the United Nations year of light.
Lucia is perhaps one of the most loved Swedish traditions, where a candlelit procession of girls and boys clad in white full-length gowns sing songs together in anticipation of Christmas and the return of lighter days. In front is the Lucia, a girl wearing a crown of candles on her head.
At the Lucia celebration in Shanghai Centre the procession entered the stage after riding down the escalators from the Centre’s second level and after passing the crowded atrium to the amazement of the spectators, many seeing a Lucia procession for the first time. On stage, the choir performed the traditional Swedish Lucia songs, both a Capella and accompanied by instruments. The audience was invited to sing along and to try Swedish Christmas foodstuffs provided by event sponsor IKEA such as glögg (mulled red wine), ginger bread cookies and Julmust (a soft drink that Swedes drink during Christmas).
The tradition of celebrating Lucia dates back to the Middle Ages, and was originally a held in the memory of Saint Lucia of Syracuse. Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.
The Lucia procession in Shanghai was made possible thanks to the kind participation of the Swedish choir led by Ms Karin Alván, the children from the Swedish School in Shanghai, the students of Swedish from Shanghai International Studies University, and Mr Arvid Resare playing the viola.