Sankta Lucia: Relevant or not?


Payton Willis

Sankta Lucia is an annual event celebrated at Augustana at the end of November. This year, the event will be held on Monday, Nov. 29. Many students wonder exactly what Sankta Lucia is and why it is celebrated on campus.

According to Augustana’s website, Sankta Lucia is, “a cherished tradition of the Advent season in all the Nordic countries. A candlelight procession of singers is led by a young woman robed in white with a crown of candles on her head, to commemorate the martyred St. Lucy (d. 304 AD).” This event celebrates the life of St. Lucy and how her life inspired Swedish and Scandinavian cultures.

A lot of students have never heard of this particular event. The Swedish population at Augustana is actually quite small considering the background of the college. Scandinavian studies students and those who are a part of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center are in charge of running this event, but all are invited to participate.

Margaret Huntley, sophomore, attended the event last year and had nothing but positive things to say.

“I love Sankta Lucia! I’ve only participated in it during COVID, so there was no audience in attendance, but the event itself is cool because it puts you in the Christmas spirit and allows you to immerse yourself in the Swedish language and culture,” Huntley said.

Sankta Lucia gives students a chance to celebrate Christmas and the life of St. Lucy in a musical setting. Typically the event involves a performance by women singing traditional holiday pieces. Musical pieces like Sankta Lucia and Nu tändas tusen juleljus will be performed.

Augustana has deep Swedish roots and by including this holiday it signifies unity with the college’s ethnic background. It’s quite surprising how small our Swedish population is given the history of the college.

Giving every culture a chance to showcase their respective holidays is what makes Augustana great. For such a small school, students get to experience traditions practiced around the world they may not have had a chance to before.

Dr. Mark Safstrom is in charge of the celebration and had a few key things to say about the event. “Sankta Lucia is a beloved holiday tradition that we celebrate every year at Augustana. Generations of students have been part of lighting up the Advent season by singing cheerful carols and shining candles to signify the return of light at the darkest time of the year,” Safstrom said.

Safstrom encourages students to continue to celebrate the tradition of Sankta Lucia again on Nov. 29 as a way to end the semester with joy. “Today’s students can join us to continue this unique Augie tradition, learn a little bit of Swedish and conclude the fall semester on a positive note,”Safstrom said.

Sankta Lucia is a great chance to immerse yourself in new cultures’ holiday traditions and get a chance to explore Augustana’s impressive Swedish roots.

“To quote Elf, ‘The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!’ At Augie we take this up a notch…by singing in Swedish!” Safstrom said.