The other night, we visited the country of Iceland in our Christmas trip around the world.
Although people in Iceland celebrate St. Lucia Day, a day honoring the patron saint of light, Christians in other Nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, do as well.
Now, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not pray to saints as do some other religions, instead, we believe that all believers in Christ are capable of and should act as saints, doing good and serving others where ever we go.
Around Christmas time in Sweden (and other countries), one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.
St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304 AD. The most common story told about St. Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means light, a very appropriate name.
St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Early in the morning on December 13th, the girl passes out coffee and donuts to her family. Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used!
Although traditionally, the oldest girl in a household has the honor of playing St. Lucy, I gave Autumn the honor, and she was just glowing with excitement, to be our special guest!
Autumn was true grace under "fire"! Thank goodness we didn't try to use real candles. The crown we made was a little wobbly, and the wreath was poking poor Autumn in the head, but she smiled and played her part so well...passing out the Dunkin'Donuts!
She loved wearing the pretty white dress that my sister passed on for their baptism days (coming up!) She felt very special, and the other girls are eager for their turn in the coming years! Hopefully we'll come up with a more stable crown before then!
Another tradition that we had a good laugh over was that in Iceland 13 mischievous elves visit children!!! The first day they come is December 12th and the last day is December 24th. They leave gifts in children's shoes. Then they gradually go back to the mountains, one by one. By January 6th, the elves are gone and the Christmas season is over! Love it!
The thirteen elves have different names that describe their mischief. Here are some common ones: Window Peeper, Yogurt Gobbler, Donut Beggar, Ice Breaker, Sausage Snatcher, Pot Licker, Door Slammer, Butter Greedy, Fat Gobbler, Skirt Blower, Doorway Sniffer, Smoke Gulper, and Itty Bitty.
We were cracking up over the names and agreed that we certainly have some elves that fit that description among our family!!
If you'd like to say "Merry Christmas" in Icelandic, you'd say "Gledileg jol", pronounced gled-EH-leh yole.