Culture in Chicago: Sweden

Written by: Marcie Wolbeck

Cultural Care Au Pair is back to talk about ways to treat your family to a cultural experience without leaving the city!  This month we take you on a journey to Sweden.  There are so many fun ways to enjoy the Swedish culture right here in Chicago. 

Sweden really knows how to make the darkest day of the year full of light!  Each year on December 13th, the people of Sweden celebrate the feast of St. Lucia.  St. Lucia was a young Christian martyr who secretly brought food to the persecuted Christians in Rome.  She would always wear candles on her head at night to keep her hands free to carry the food.  The ancient festival of lights is now called The Feast of St. Lucia in honor of this saint whose name also means “light”. 

I turned to one of our Swedish au pairs, Fanny Janten, to get a first hand experience of how the Swedes celebrate St. Lucia Day..  Fanny is a 19 year old au pair who just arrived in Chicago from her small town in the south of Sweden.  She is living with her host family in Roscoe Village and had many wonderful things to say about this Swedish tradition.  The Feast of St. Lucia is a very beloved holiday in Sweden.  According to Fanny, “The festival is marked by celebrations across all of the preschools and elementary schools.  The little girls wear special white dresses and glitter in their hair, with the “Lucia” wearing a crown with candles.  Little boys wear tall hats with a gold star and carry a stick with a gold star emblem.  They brighten everyone’s spirits by singing Christmas carols and songs about Lucia to retirement communities as well as their families at a school-wide celebration.  Afterwards, they enjoy coffee and lemonade with gingerbread cookies and a special bun flavored with saffron and raisins called a Lussekatt which is Swedish tradition.”  

The holidays are a great time to get the family together to experience some of these wonderful Swedish customs!  Participate in the Feast of St. Lucia as a family, right here in Chicago on December 13th with holiday songs, readings and a Lucia procession at one of these three locations: 

Daley Plaza:  11:30am

Swedish American Museum/Andersonville:  4:45pm

Ebenezer Lutheran Church (1650 W. Foster Ave):  7:00pm

If you can’t make it to the Lucia procession, check out the Swedish American Museum another day!  This wonderful museum has an interactive children’s immigration museum inside that is fun for children of all ages.  Ann Sather, the famous Swedish Restaurant is next door to the museum.  Kids will love the delicious cinnamon rolls and adults can feast on the Swedish Breakfast Platter including a Swedish pancake, Swedish meatball, Swedish sausage and eggs. 

Further enrich the cultural experience when you get home by reading Pippi Longstocking, originally written by Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren.  For older children, make it a family movie night with Pippi Longstocking the movie!

As they would say in Sweden, “Trevlig helg” (or Happy Holidays) to you and your family.

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM