The Suitcase Lady


December 11, 2007, 11:04 pm

I want to make it clear that I am not a Swedish wanna-be.

My grandfather got off a boat from Bohemia, and my grandmother said “Make out the lights”, the literal translation from the German, until the day she died. I am almost always content to be what I am, an American of Czech / German descent.

However, on one day of the year, I long to be Swedish. That special day is December 13, St. Lucia Day in Sweden.

How St. Lucia, a very Italian saint, has come to be adored by a nation of Swedes is lost in the murky mess of history. What is certain is that she is the saint of light, and the Swedish people want her to visit their homes and bring back the light to their dark, northern nation.

The Swedes accomplish this feat by lighting up their big sisters. Early on December 13, the oldest girl in the family dons a white dress with a crimson sash, puts a lingonberry leaf crown with lighted candles on her head and serves her family breakfast in bed. Even the sweet rolls, luciakatter, are special. They are almond, raisin, saffron flavored buns.

Living in the upper Midwest, I feel a compelling need for a Lucia girl. When they were younger, my granddaughters could be pressed into doing Lucia duty. Teenagers are more skeptical about these matters.

I may have to run a classified ad. “Wanted, one Lucia girl, no experience necessary. Crown and candles provided. Just bring back the sun.”

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