Name’s Day December 5
Sven is Old Norse for “young man” or “young warrior.” The original spelling in Old Norse was Sveinn. Over the centuries, many northern European rulers have carried the name including Sweyn I of Denmark (Sven Gabelbart), who established Danish rule over Norway and successfully invaded England in the year 1002. An old legend relates the pagan king Blot-Sven ordered the execution of the Anglo-Saxon monk Saint Eskil. In medieval Swedish "sven" (or "sven av vapen" (sven of arms) is a term for squire.

What happens in Sweden in December
On December 13 one of the most beloved holidays takes place, and that, of course, is Sankta Lucia. Along with Advent, Lucia marks the beginning of Christmas. Some trace the "re-birth" of the Lucia celebrations in Sweden to the tradition in German Protestant families of having girls dressed as angelic Christ children handing out Christmas presents. The Swedish variant of this white-dressed Kindchen Jesus, or Christkind, was called Kinken Jes, and started to appear in upper-class families in the 18th century on Christmas Eve with a candle-wreath in her hair, handing out candy and cakes to the children. Another theory claims that the Lucia celebration evolved from old Swedish traditions of “star boys” and white-dressed angels singing Christmas carols at different events during Advent and Christmas. In either case, the current tradition of having a white-dressed woman with candles in her hair appearing on the morning of Lucia Day started in the area around Lake Vänern in the late 18th century and spread slowly to other parts of the country during the 19th century.
In the Lucia procession depicted by Carl Larsson in 1908, the oldest daughter brings coffee and St. Lucia buns to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter wears the candle-wreath. The modern tradition of having public processions in the Swedish cities started in 1927 when a newspaper in Stockholm elected an official Lucia for Stockholm that year. The initiative was then followed around the country through the local press.
Today most cities in Sweden appoint a Lucia every year. Schools elect a Lucia and her maids among the students and a national Lucia is elected on national television from regional winners. The regional Lucias will visit shopping malls, retirement communities and churches, singing and handing out “pepparkakor” (gingerbread). Guinness World Records has noted the Lucia procession in Ericsson Globe in Stockholm as the largest in the world, with 1200 participants from Adolf Fredriks Musikklasser, Stockholms Musikgymnasium and Stockholmläns Blåsarsymfoniker.


Name’s Day December 31
Sylvester (or Silvester) is a masculine name with Latin origin and means “wooded” or “wild.” It’s an unusual name in Sweden, though the trend since the beginning of the 1990s is going up.

What happens in Sweden in December
Following Christmas celebrations, there’s also the less-known “Värnlösa barns dag” (Massacre of the Innocents) celebrated on December 28. The day has been celebrated since the 5th century to honor the children who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod let kill in his hunt for the newly born Messiah. Matthew 2:16-18: “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

‘A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.’”

This day was until 2000 called “Menlösa barns dag,” but the word “menlös” (which means innocent, harmless just as “värnlös” does) had gotten an alternative negative connotation.