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St. Lucia event to be held on Saturday

PRINCETON — The Celebration of St. Lucia, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated traditionally on Dec. 13 in honor of one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia, who was persecuted for her religious beliefs.

Each year a ceremony is held in which a young girl is chosen to portray Lucia. She wears a white gown with a red sash and crown of candles and is followed by a court procession of other young females. The Evangelical Covenant Church uses their high school seniors to represent Lucia and her court. The candles that are carried by the girls represent the fire that refused to take her life when she was sentenced to burn.

Lucia represents the triumph of light of the long, cold and dark nights of winter.

The Evangelical Covenant Church holds its St. Lucia celebration the second Saturday of every December. This year it falls on Saturday.

Originally the holiday was a celebration vaunting the Winter Solstice with large bonfires, which were meant to ward off evil spirits, while the modern celebration marks the beginning of the Christmas season and is used as a way to bring optimism and light into the darkest time of the year.

“It’s a great way to start of the holiday season,” said Event Coordinator Carol Nelson. “People love the event so we want people to come and enjoy themselves.”

St. Lucia’s Day is generally celebrated by Lutheran Nordic Peoples consisting of Danes, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians and their decedents here in the United States of America, whom are generally Evangelical Christians.

The women of the church work vehemently to decorate, bake goods for a breakfast and a bake sale, prepare costumes, and set dining arrangements in the days few days leading up to the event.

“Everything at the event is done by volunteers. The decorating, baking — everything really is done by the women of the church,” said Nelson.

The reservation-only breakfast will serve 160 people by waitresses in Swedish garb and will consist of ethnic Swedish dishes, including egg casserole, fruit soup, yeast braids, rye bread and cardamom rolls.

“Our women’s ministries really are the ones who put this on. It’s by the women of our church and we count on a lot of people to help us,” said Nelson, “We’ve been doing it for 28 to 30 years now.”

The holiday was originally celebrated on the Winter Solstice when the Julian calendar was in affect, but has since been celebrated on Dec. 13 every year since the adaptation of our current Gregorian calendar, which accounts for a leap year once every four years.

St. Lucia’s name, Lucia, comes from the root of the Latin word, “Lux,” meaning light, as it was celebrated on the Winter Solstice and represented the transition to longer days, therefore having more light in each day.

“This year’s program will also include a performance that will include singing and possibly a violin performance,” said Nelson.

The bake sale will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday followed by the reservation-only breakfast and performance at 9:30 a.m. The bake sale will resume after the breakfast and performance.

While space is limited, reservations for the breakfast can still be made by calling Joan Eggers at 815-875-2168.

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