School celebrates St. Lucia tradition

8 years ago
 NEW SWEDEN, Maine – New Sweden school held their annual St. Lucia celebration last Friday, honoring a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. In addition, the school held their classroom Christmas concert on the same night.

According to Swedish tradition, St. Lucia appears on the darkest day of the year, traditionally December 13th, with light in her hair, providing light and warmth on a day that is typically cold and dark.

The New Sweden school gymnasium suddenly went dark as the celebration began. St. Lucia, portrayed by eighth-grader Ariel Plucker, proceeded in with a crown of electric candles in her hair while students in white robes and candles in hand followed behind her.

“We actually begin in the morning with a procession around the school where Lucia brings the saffron buns to her family members,” said New Sweden Principal Laurie Spooner, “Lucia brought pepparkakor to each of the classes. This morning it was really nice, because usually we have to try hard to darken everything, but it wasn’t an issue today.”

Students gathered in front of the audience in the dark gymnasium and spoke about the history and relevance of St. Lucia to the audience.

When the lights turned back on, students passed out pepparkakor to the attendants.

“We’ve done this for a number of years now,” said Spooner. “It takes a couple weeks ahead of time to get ready, but we have most of the materials. Most of the students who are participating this year actually participated last year.”

Community member Carla Fisher, who has grandchildren in the school, made over 500 pepparkakor for the morning and evening St. Lucia presentations.

Jennifer Holmes, the school’s music teacher, played piano for nearly all of the songs performed at the Christmas concert. Local violinist Stephen Boody, who works in the school as a bus driver, played violin during the concert as well.

The school chorus sang classic seasonal numbers such as “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Silver Bells” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Students Jeremiah Holmes, Jim O’Meara, and Lars Spooner played “Frere Jacques” on the trumpet and Jordon Sandstrom performed “Little Drummer Boy” on the clarinet.

“All of the teachers were involved with making this come together tonight,” said Spooner. “It takes everybody coming together.”