St Lucia Day is a festival on December 13 celebrating light that is celebrated in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Swedish speaking parts of Finland. The holiday honors St. Lucia who was an early Christian martyr and saint. In early centuries, the Scandinavian countries celebrated the winter solstice and after converting to Christianity, they blended the solstice celebration of light with Christian traditions in the form of St. Lucia Day.
According to a common legend, Lucia was from Sicily around 300 AD and while she was from a wealthy family, after seeing an angel, she became a Christian, turned against marriage and her wealth and instead took a vow to remain a virgin after the St. Agatha tradition. The Roman authorities ordered her to be forced into prostitution at a brothel, but the order could not be carried out when she became immovable and could not be removed. They tried to kill her by fire, but she would not burn. She was killed by a sword blow to the neck. While there are no historical records recording her story, there are references to her in Roman documents and two churches were dedicated to her in the 8th century.
St. Lucia day is particularly important in Sweden when her day marks the beginning of the Christmas season. On this day virtually every home and community chooses a Lucia (traditionally the oldest girl in the family) who dresses in a white gown and wears a crown of candles in her hair while bringing coffee and traditional sweets to family members. She is accompanied by boys as attendants who also wear white and tall white paper cones on their heads. Many communities have a church service on this day and children from the community participate in the ceremony.