The Festival of Saint Lucia

History & Origins

St. Lucia

The Festival of St. Lucia, which is traditionally celebrated on December 13, begins the Christmas season in Swedish custom.

The so-called Festival of Lights stems from the fourth-century martyrdom of an Italian saint and an incident that followed. According to Swedish legend, a ship carrying a maiden "clothed in white and crowned with light" appeared on the shore in Värmland during a great famine. The maiden, widely believed to be Lucia, distributed food and clothing to the needy, thus endearing herself to the Swedish people.

The festival is celebrated at Gustavus with a chapel service featuring a court of five sophomore women chosen for their leadership, service to the College and others, charity, kindness, and thoughtfulness. The service is followed by a Scandinavian smörgåsbord luncheon and program.

The St. Lucia luncheon sells out early every year. Invitations are mailed to Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) members in late October and tickets go on sale in November.

To join GLA, contact the Office of Marketing and Communication at (507) 933-7520.