San Francisco was warm and cloudy when the Swedish Church held its annual Lucia celebration. Normally the view of the Golden Gate Bridge is incredible from the church terrace, but on December 12, its overcast weather was ideal for a bringer of light.

The church was packed with people waiting for Lucia and her maidens. After Pastor Staffan Simonsson welcomed everyone, the procession arrived to brighten the day. All the traditional Lucia songs were sung, directed by Karin Gaensler and accompanied on the piano by Per-Olof Persson.


Since no Lucia is complete without fika, a big table was prepared upstairs with delicious Scandinavian waffles, hot open-faced sandwiches, saffron buns, gingersnaps and many other delicious treats. A special thank you goes to Gro Sødal, from the Norwegian Seamen’s Church, who pitched in to help and did a great job.

As soon as the coffee and goodies were gone, it was time for Lucia and her attendants to rush to the Swedish American Hall on the other side of the city to participate in the Young Scandinavians Lucia Celebration. The members of the procession didn't have time to browse around, but others mingled in the beautiful rooms of the Swedish American Hall and enjoyed saffron buns, gingersnaps, glögg and the open bar.

When the guests were seated, the lights went out and Thomas Nielsen, president of the YSC, welcomed everyone and introduced the hostess of the evening, Maria Lennartsson. Janet Beck read a short story about the legend of Lucia, and then the Lucia procession arrived, filling the room with candlelight, warmth and all the traditional Lucia songs. As she has done since 1957, Lisa Wiborg presented this year's Lucia, Sofia Segerström with a pearl necklace, a special keep-sake given to every Lucia.

As soon as the pageant was over, hostess Maria Lennartsson thanked Lisa Wiborg, Karin Gaensler, Signe Vik and Renee Hersson for all their work putting this evening together for the Young Scandinavians Club. Before she finished, someone else was sneaking in to surprise all the children: It was Santa, himself. He was there to give the young children, and even some older ones, a chance to let him know what they wanted for Christmas. Meanwhile, the chairs were cleared from the floor, the Christmas tree was brought it, and it was time to dance around the singers from the Lucia choir.

Submitted by Carola Williams