when i was 20 years old living in aix-en-provence, france, i lived next to the 12th century cathédrale saint saveur and even shared a large garden in my backyard with the clergy. around november, all of my swedish girlfriends started talking about the saint lucia procession that was coming up at the cathedral and invited me to attend. the catholic saint lucia is a symbol of light and marks the return of longer days. i am not catholic so had no knowledge of the ceremony or the beauty i was to witness. we sat in the rows of the dark, candlelit church in complete silence. suddenly huge shadows were being thrown onto the walls ahead of me as the sweet sound of 40 girls singing filled the cathedral. they walked slowly down the aisle, each holding a flickering candle, led by a chosen lucia who was wearing a crown of candles. i get goosebumps to this day thinking of that special night. here is an example of the procession.
this past weekend my friend amanda (who is part norwegian) invited elodie, michael and i to the swea christmas fair in downtown los angeles. there was a saint lucia procession, gløgg, swedish pancakes and lots of cute crafts. elodie and her little friend malena had such a fun time folk dancing and we all settled down to watch the procession after lunch. it was amazing how strongly the memory of france came back as the girls filed past us one by one. elodie was enthralled by the 'princesses' and has been asking me to sing the song to her all week. i definitely want to make going to this event a tradition for us. scandinavian or not!