Celebrating Women as Kind

young  children dressed in sankta lucia costumes sing

Sankta Lucia - Östersund, Sweden

Click here to listen to Paola talk about this festival

This is an excerpt from the book Celebrating Women.

Anna Sorensson was last year's Jämtland county Sankta Lucia. Perhaps she was destined for it. “There are pictures in the family album of me when I was two years old wearing my first crown,” she confides over lunch.

“Most county winners are 18, but I was 23-- a grandma!” she laughs “I was crowned in the Big Church. Every day for a week after that, we got up at six AM and there was something every minute. One day: the hospital, all thirteen floors, every room, every door. You’re so tired of the Lucia song you want to puke,” she laughs, recounting how the young women sing hour after hour at schools, corporate offices, hospitals, and elder care facilities.  “We visited hospice care—people dying soon of cancer. We just sang in the corridors because they were too sick for visits but they wanted to hear the music for the last time.”

Later, I discover that Anna and her court were criticized for acting “too human” while visiting hospital patients. “Lucia is supposed to be like an angel, heavenly, untouchable. But to be distant would be rude. If someone was crying,

we stayed with them and held their hands and waved at them as we left; they were lying in bed waving back, so happy.”

“Right before I became Lucia, my grandfather had a bad fall in the kitchen. I was so busy during Lucia week that no one told me. So I came into one of the hospital rooms, and there was an old man who looked like my grandfather sitting in bed. He died this autumn, but you couldn’t mention Lucia without his crying because he was so proud.

“In one private nursing home, an old man had written a speech for Lucia. He wanted to stand but he was in a wheelchair and he would have landed on his knees if he’d tried. His nurse held him up while he spoke to us, “I’m sorry I cannot stand up like a gentleman.  I probably won’t live until next year, so I am happy that Lucia took the time to come.’

“They say Lucia comes to spread the light. That’s true. If someone takes time to visit people, it makes a difference. It was really nice to be Lucia,” Anna smiles, “It was about being kind.” 

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