Sweden celebrates S. Lucia in Rome and Milan

Swedish choir performs traditional hyms in both Italian cities

For the fifth consecutive year, Sweden's embassy in Italy presents one of the most popular traditions on the Swedish calendar: the feast of S. Lucia which falls on 13 December.

The festivities take place mainly in Rome, but also in Milan, in collaboration with the embassy of Sweden to the Holy See, the tourism board VisitSweden, and Assosvezia, the Italo-Swedish chamber of commerce.

The S. Lucia procession comprises young students from the musical high school Nordiska Musikgymnasiet in Stockholm who will be dressed in white robes, with garlands of lingonberry in their hair and candles in their hands, as they perform traditional Christmas hymns in both Italian cities. The first concert takes place on 9 December at 17.00 during the Mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. On 10 December the second concert will be held at the IKEA store in Porta di Roma at 11.00.

Later that day, in collaboration with the city, there will be a S. Lucia concert at Piazza Campitelli at 17.00. The festivities in Rome conclude with a large public event in Piazza di Pietraat 19.30, in front of the Temple of Hadrian. Sweden's ambassador to Italy, Ruth Jacoby, will open the concert after which the audience can enjoy Swedish specialities such as glögg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (gingerbread).

VisitSweden will be on hand to give information about Sweden and will also be giving away prizes, including a weekend for two in Stockholm, for the winners of a quiz about S. Lucia.

The choir moves to Milan on 11 December and will give a concert at the Chiesa S. Fedele in Piazza S. Fedele, at 17.30.

The embassy says that in Sweden S. Lucia is celebrated from dawn on 13 December, when thousands of children light up the dark winter day with songs, treats and candles. Across the country, among families, schools, kindergartens, offices and shops, people gather to listen to the enchanting hymns and to celebrate light in the lead-up to Christmas. The S. Lucia procession visits prisons and hospitals, and other places where people cannot leave, bringing light where there is darkness.

People in Italy can follow the celebrations of S. Lucia on social media via the Twitter hashtag.

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