Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amaryllis and lights

With the food fest behind us, the long wished for turkey sandwich consumed, as well as a bowl of comforting turkey soup ala American tradition, we head straight into the festival of lights.
Here in the dark north they know how to chase the gloom away! Today, the first day of advent the first candle in the advent candle holder is lit. You will most likely find one on most families kitchen table, green or white moss surrounding the candle base and for a bit of color perhaps some red berries or marzipan Santas are stuffed in between. This is also the day when the merchants reveal the Christmas decorated display windows and customers start thinking seriously about shopping for gifts. Considerably understated here compared to the US however.
Each city, town and village will choose their Saint Lucia today, from a group of contestants. She will along with her attendants, Star Boys and a Santa, spend time during the holiday season, visiting hospitals, elder living facilities and such, entertaining with song, Lucia bread (saffron infused sweet bread) and gingerbread hearts! A sweet and bright tradition I remember so well from when I was little. My Mother would get us out of bed in what seemed to be the middle of the night and we, my sister Monica and some kids from our apartment building would go on the bus, to visit Mothers work and various friends! Coffee and the treats in tow and we'd be dressed in our white gowns. It was very exiting! Then as my own children became old enough they too were "dragged around", Maria being our Saint Lucia with John and Freddy as the Star Boys and I the Baker and Director. And so it went until it was Maria's turn to Bake and Direct, baking loads of saffron rolls for Ryan and Linnea to bring to school and with Linnea as Lucia!!
Is Saga next?
Amaryllis, Hyacinth and Paper Whites also play a big part during this season along with the Christmas Cactus................and I think the first blossom on the Amaryllis I planted in a pot about a month ago will open today! The electric candles will turn on in every self respecting Swede's window today at dusk, remaining there to spread light and cheer until the 13th day of January! Welcome Christmas! Welcome Light!

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