In Sweden, Lucia is a tradition of light, peace and joy celebrated annually on the 13th of December.

Lucia was first celebrated as 'Midwinter', which according to the Julian calendar was the longest night of the year. It was believed to be a night of evil in Swedish folklore and candlelit meals and even song was used as defence against the dark spirits and the cold. Nowadays, Lucia is celebrated in Swedish churches, schools and communities with sweet treats, for example a 'lussekatt (saffron bun), and  a procession, or 'luciatåg' (lucia train), of a choir in white gowns holding candles and led by a girl,  'Lucia', who wears a crown of candles on her head. Even at home, young children often will dress as Lucia, sing and give Lucia treats to their parents to wake them up on the 13th of December. In addition, every year, one 'Luciatåg' is selected to be  broadcasted across Sweden on the morning of the Lucia.

With a growing population of Swedes in the UK, approximately 100,000 in London, it is no surprise that traditions are kept alive, even overseas. This year was the thirtieth anniversary of St Paul's Cathedral's annual Lucia service, letting the tradition be shared with people of all nationalities and be an opportunity for Swedes to celebrate their culture in the heart of London.

I attended the service on Friday (10th December) and thought it was a wonderful celebration, full of warmth and beautiful singing.  The service started with English hymns and carols sung by 'St Paul's Cathedral Choir' followed by messages and readings by, among others, Ms Kumlin Granit, the Ambassador of Sweden. Finally, the lights dimmed, candlelight grew towards the dome and the voices of the 'Ulrika Eleonora (Sweden Church in London) Church Choir' filled the Cathedral. To conclude, I can confidently say that the service exceeded my expectations and left everyone moved by the magical celebration of light, peace and joy.

If you wish you can watch this year's broadcasted Lucia :