Dressing the part

Lyla Gutzmer (left to right), Isaac Steen, Claire Gutzmer, Holly Gutzmer, Lois Josefson and Alexis Krafnick pose for a photo from last year’s St. Lucia celebration.

As the hours of daylight wane in December, the people of Sweden have maintained a tradition of proclaiming God’s light shining brightly even in the darkest of days.  For more than 50 years Augustana Lutheran Church has brought that tradition here to Fergus Falls.  This year’s celebration moves to Sunday Dec. 8 as a Swedish meatball luncheon.  The tradition carries with it quite a story for the telling.

Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy) was a young Christian girl who was martyred in Rome in the year 304.  At the time, Christians were persecuted for their faith and were forced to live in hiding in the catacombs under the city.  The young Lucia would smuggle food to the Christians living underground while wearing a crown of candles on her head to keep her hands free to carry food to be shared with the hungry community.  The name “Lucy” comes from the Latin word lux for “light” and so it is especially fitting.

The connection to the people of Sweden is not entirely clear, but one account is that long ago while the people of Sweden were experiencing a famine, on the longest night of the year, a mysterious ship crossed Lake Vanern to the starving people Varmland.  At the bow of the ship stood a young girl dressed in white with a red sash and crowned with a wreath of lighted candles lighting the way.  The ship was filled with food for the starving people of Varmland and they recognized the young woman as Saint Lucia.  St. Lucia’s Day celebrations has held special meaning to the people of Sweden ever since.  

In continuing a tradition started more than 50 years ago by the women of Augustana, Augustana Lutheran Church will be observing the holiday with a celebration on Sunday, Dec. 8 with a community meal served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Cost of the meal is $9.50 for Adults; $4.50 for Children ages 4-14; Children 3 and under eat free.  The menu will include: Swedish meatballs, homemade mashed potatoes, corn, Swedish rice, Swedish flatbread, Swedish tea rings, rosettes and lefse.  The Saint Lucia celebration will include a Craft and Bake Sale from 9:30-1:30 p.m.  Money raised will go to support local charities and outreach efforts.

Community members are invited to celebrate with the people of Augustana Lutheran Church how God’s light shines into the darkness of our world as part of your Advent preparations before the season of Christmas, when we especially remember God’s gift to this world in the birth of its Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.


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