In western Sweden it was also customary that the autumn work should be finished the night before Lucia.
Lesser known about Lucia celebrations
Lucia, December 13 Swedish Lucia, the Queen of Light
coincides with many other seasonal customs and habits in Sweden of older times. Among other things one symbolically finished the threshing and then butchered the pigs. "Seven in the early morning of the day" one should also get up and get oneself a bit of food and something to drink. Not only the animals but also humankind should have a real "Lucia bite." This could many times take extensive forms. One spoke of "Lucia drinking" for that morning one should consume a really especially large amount of liquids.
Often it could be a question of getting up in the middle of the night and get a square meal and then tumble into bed. Then one slept a little while in order to get up peppy and happy and fill up on another breakfast. In Värmland and Dalsland that was called having a breakfast in every corner of the room - in every room in the house! It is possible that this gluttony can have its basis in the fact that during the Catholic Middle Ages the Christmas fast started after Lucia Day.
It is interesting to note that Lucia morning seems to have been a celebration for men. In a diary from the 1790's it was recounted that the men in the house "were up and celebrated Lucia in the usual; manner, but Eva and I lay in bed until 8 o'clock". It also said that they "ate the fat and drank the sweetness the whole day".
Enjoy some of our recent films from Lucia celebrations in Swedish America: http://www.youtube.com/xoxosweden
or at www.vimeo.com/nordstjernan
and - if still available - the SVT Play version of the celebration in Göteborg, Sweden is at Lucia in Sweden
"Lussegubbar" - Lucia Guys
There were also men who made themselves look frightening in costumes, blackened their faces and went out as "Lucia guys" to amuse themselves and also or perhaps just take the opportunity to make a little mischief.
This is a custom that has entirely disappeared today but which remains in men's memory and occurred a couple of generations ago.
Even if there is no connection, it can be of interest to know that in several places, among others in the German and Austrian alpine regions it happened that young people on Lucia morning dressed up in fright costumes and masks and went from house to house.
The concept of Lucia combined with fright and evil is not entirely strange for us Swedes either. First there are the corruptions of the name of the day's saint, which has led to that. It has been connected to the evil Lucifer and to lice and other vermin.
"The day before Lucia it was best to be nice, for on Lucia eve the Lucia witch could come. She was both wicked and dangerous. She could take the children away with her". Thus it was told in Värmlandsnäs as late as in the 1950's.
A man's celebration
It is primarily in the western part of Sweden that the celebration of Lucia morning has its strongest roots. There it has always been a man's celebration. It was also the western Swedish students (male also naturally at that time), which in the beginning of the 1800's took with them the traditions and established them in Uppsala, Stockholm and Lund. Primarily Värmlanders and Dalslanders but also those from Västergötland and Gothenburg saw to it that students up to our present day in ritual form observed Lucia breakfast in their "nations" just as the venerable Wermländska Sällskapet (Värmland Society) in Stockholm has held its major celebration on Lucia Day since 1816.
In many places in northern Sweden Lucia was according to tradition Adam's first wife. She was of underground origin and someone to watch out for. If the children were not kept inside during the evenings before Christmas, they could risk being kidnapped by Lucia.