Lucia everywhere in Swedish America are donning their candlelit crowns and bringing to life the beautiful and beloved annual Swedish tradition of Sankta Lucia. Lucia and her attendants sing songs in the candlelit darkness, serve coffee and lussekatter, and perhaps join with others in dancing around the Christmas tree. It may be known to the rest of the world as the most typical Swedish tradition.

Many Swedish American families keep the tradition alive in their homes as well as in churches and festival settings, celebrating on any date in early December. But in Sweden, Sankta Lucia and her train of maidens and star boys come only on December 13 — without exception, not even for the year's Nobel laureates.


But each year Sweden’s national Lucia and her attendants surprise the Nobel Prize laureates who have stayed a bit longer at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm; Laureates are woken up in their hotel beds by girls dressed in white carrying candles, celebrating the feast of St Lucia in the early morning of Dec. 13.

This year should be no different and the experience quite different from the formal events, headlined by the Nobel Banquet in the evening of Nobel Day on the 10th, where the royal family, the Nobel laureates and 1,300 guests gather at the City Hall, undoubtedly the social event of the year in Sweden. Swedish families gather around their TVs at home to follow proceedings live; style pundits rate ladies' fashions; food pundits rate the food being served, which has been created by 45 chefs, delivered by 260 servers, and washed down with 800 bottles of champagne and red wine. The banquet always follows the awards ceremony in which King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hands each laureate a diploma and a medal in the Stockholm Concert Hall. The sumptuous dinner is always served at Stockholm City Hall, a spectacular banquet with 65 tables in their exact positions, 500 yards of tablecloth and 6,700 pieces of porcelain, 5,400 glasses and 9,425 pieces of cutlery. Each year the menu is decided on by a jury and is kept secret until 7 p.m. on December 10, though one thing is known: Dessert always includes ice cream.

The 2016 Nobel Prize laureates are:
Literature: Bob Dylan, "For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” (The American winner won't be attending, but he has sent a message of thanks to be read at the ceremony; and singer Patti Smith will perform Dylan's “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”)

Economic Sciences: Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström, "For their contributions to contract theory."

Physics 2016: David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz, "For theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter."

Chemistry: Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Fearing, "For the design and synthesis of molecular machines."

Physiology or Medicine: Yoshinori Ohsumi, "For his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy."

The 2016 Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, is awarded to: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, "For his efforts to bring to an end the country’s 50-year civil war."