Santa Lucia is the queen of light,and her feast day is celebrated on 13 december.Young girls dress in long white robes with a crown of candles and sing their way through institutions such as hospitals,old folks homes and some hotels.
The Swedes celebrate the festival of midsummer with a passion.The celebrations take place on a friday and saturday between 19 - 26 june.Lots of people throw crayfish parties with plenty of alcohol,and there is dancing round a midsummer pole.It is a very joyous celebration if you are in town at this time.
Between June and August 2004 about 100 colorful fibreglass cows were placed on many streets, squares and in buildings of Stockholm. This cow parade has already been to New York, London, Dublin and Sydney before.
On the darkest day of the year, the Swedes celebrate St. Lucia day. St Lucia is derived from an Italian saint and is said to have brought light in on the darkest day of the year December 13th. (In Sweden, there are only a few hours of daylight during the winter.) So Lucia wears a crown of candles on her head and is accompanied by her servants carrying trays of buns, gingerbread and coffee. Legend has it that she was believed to be a witch, and when burning her at the steak didn't work, they stabbed her to death. The read sash she wears around her waist symbolizes the blood from her killing.
In Sweden every year, there are female contestents from all over the country and they vote for which girl will get chosen to be Saint Lucia. Then her and a choir sing Christmas songs in a church.
I celebrate Lucia day at home in Canada. My grandparents are members of the Swedish Luthren Church in Toronto and every year there is a Saint Lucia Pagaent in which we perform at Royal York Hotel, City TV, Toronto Harbourfront Centre and of course, the church. You see it is still a very popular tradition among Swedes!
The annual jazz festival takes place at the end of July and most things are concentrated to the Skeppsholmen island in the city centre. 2003-04 has shown a bit of a trend break as more blues and even more youthful musical styles have been welcomed in favour of traditional jazz but you will still find the good old swing Stockholm is famous for.
The picture was taken from my hotel room window at 11 PM and you can see it is still quite light outside...In fact, at the end of May it didn't really get completely dark and it was already really light again by 3 AM!
Midsummer is the most important time of year to "party", especially around the longest day of the year which is June 21st. Keep in mind that alot of people do leave town at this time of year and some things actually close or have shorter hours.
A CITY OF FESTIVALSStockholm is a city of festivals: which celebrate Strindberg, jazz and tango among other things. Hope you can enjoy all of them when you are there.