Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bringing Light Theme Parties Renew Old Traditions, Add Sparkle to the New

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bringing Light Theme Parties Renew Old Traditions, Add Sparkle to the New

Article excerpt

Seven-year-old Amy Knapp made a convincing Santa Lucia this week as she led a procession of candle-carrying children around a barn.

Amy, of St. Louis County, repressed a mischievous smile to become sufficiently regal as she and the others re-enacted the ancient Santa Lucia ceremony, which is rooted in Swedish legend.

Amy wore a traditional white robe. A crown of greens, red berries and five lighted candles rested majestically on her head as she and her followers solemnly made their way around the decorated barn to the strains of "Santa Lucia." "I'm the head angel," Amy said proudly as she looked up to the lighted candles. The Santa Lucia procession and party were given by Anne Pals of St. Charles on behalf of Lutheran Charities. Guests brought wrapped gifts to be handed out to needy children. The idea for the Santa Lucia procession was included in a book by Pals' sister-in-law, Ellen Pals of Denver. The book, "Create A Celebration: Ideas and Resources for Theme Parties, Holidays and Special Occasions," was published in 1990. Now in its second printing, the book is put out by Fulcrum Press. Ellen Pals was at Monday's gathering. She supervised several games and gave a lecture on the ancient celebration. She explained that the custom of Santa Lucia taking gifts to the poor was rooted first in the Italian and then in the Swedish culture, where even today it is common for girls in white robes and blazing candle crowns to proceed down church aisles and across community platforms. Part of the excitement for Swedes lies in the fact that the day comes the same week as the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature. The tradition is for the prize winner to crown the new Lucia. "This myth, blended with the old stories and religious practices, is played out against the backdrop of the darkness of winter. More than anything else, it is paean to the coming of the light and light as warmth, promise and hope," Ellen Pals said. …

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