Sunday, December 11, 2005

Funny church visiting story #2

Well this was a first for us. We've been mostly hanging out at the Lutheran church where my son's best friend's parents are co-pastors. This congregation has a Swedish heritage, so today they were crowning the Lucia bride at the closing of worship.

All the kids processed into the sanctuary. The little kids marched in first, (my own included). They were dressed in conical hats with stars on them and were carrying wooden sticks with additional stars glued to the ends. Behind the younger kids were the teenaged girls wearing white gowns with gold braid on them.

The procession was very cute. But wait! There's more! Once they all reached the chancel, a reluctant teenage boy began reading the story of St. Lucia: her birth in Italy, her martyrdom at the hands of evil pagans, the miracles attributed to her in Swedish legend. After that, the teenage girls sang several verses of Santa Lucia in barely audible Swedish.

Could we just say that discipline in the ranks broke down during this portion of the festivities? During the hagiography and the song the star kids wiggled, whispered, fidgited and explored the use of their star wands as swords and/or cattle prods.

Finally, the Lucia queen was crowned, by order of the fire marshall, with a plastic wreath lit by candles with tiny, flame shaped lightbulbs. (I checked it out afterwards: it was made in Sweden, so I guess it's Lucia-kosher.)

On the way home my six year old daughter remarked, "I don't get why we did that." I guess some cultural divides you just can't bridge.


Quotidian Grace said...

Re: the wands. Reminds me of how we learned the hard way to distribute the palms to the children for the Palm Sunday procession as the children started to walk into the sanctuary and required them to leave them under the communion table before being seated so to avoid "sword fights" with the palm fronds.

Interesting that this Catholic custom of St. Lucia clearly has an ethnic significance for these folks that must transcend their Protestant heritage. Not being Swedish (and there are few identifiable Swedes in Texas) I sure don't get it, either. On the other hand, it also shows that kids will be kids in these situations!

Songbird said...

There is a Swedish Lutheran church here (not sure how many Swedes are left!), but every year they have a Lucia Day event and a fair with Swedish food and accoutrements for sale. It's a huge cultural thing for the Swedes. My dear, dear mother-in-law was a Swede. Both her parents came to the U.S. as young adults, so the practices were strong in her family. We still have the smorgasbord on Christmas Eve, even though she has been gone for seven years. My father-in-law's new wife helps to prepare it, understanding how deeply felt it is for his half-Swedish children.

Mary Beth said...

Sounds like the kids of the congregation didn't get why they were doing it, either! :)

see-through faith said...

interesting post. I wrote about St Lucy for the devotional - you can read all about it tomorrow

our local church though Swedish doesn't celebrate Lucia though there's a huge celebration with a parade etc at the cathedral tomorrow night

I think what you write about Reb is typical of a custom /tradition being carried on, but without it being explained.

Thats my fear about Christmas. With mega churches closing for family time on Christmas day - are we giving the message that Christmas is just a tradtiion, we'll hand it quietly over to santa and his little helpers and buy into the myth that if you are good you'll be ok ...


peripateticpolarbear said...

Oh Lordy....this is awesome! (She says as she prepares for massive Lucia day baking tonight and remembers to get new batteries for her faux Lucia crown) Yah! God Jul!

LutheranChik said...

I was watching Rick Steves' "Christmas in Europe" the other evening, and it featured a group of tiny blonde kindergartners in either Sweden or Norway singing (or yelling, really) "Santa Lucia" to a group of delighted senior citizens.

Over here in the Prussian end of Santa Lucia.