Christmas Around the World — Sweden
The Christmas season in Sweden begins on December 13 with the observance of Luciadagen, St. Lucia's Day. In each house early in the morning a young girl, usually the eldest, puts on a white dress, ties a crimson sash around her waist, and dons a lingon, a crown made of leaves with several lighted candles set into the crown. She then gets a tray, puts a coffee and cakes on it, and wakes up her parents giving them the coffee and cakes in bed. Siblings also get into the celebration forming a procession that follows Lucia to the parents' room. Girls are dressed in long white dresses and carry a lighted candle. Boys, known as Star Boys, also wear white along with a tall, peaked silver cap decorated with star and moon cutouts.
In some communities this tradition is extended to the town. A young girl dressed as Lucia followed by girls in white dresses carrying lighted candles and Star Boys in their costumes walks through the parish singing Christmas carols. One of the boys usually carries a pole with a laminated purple star attached. Another group of boys known as baker boys carry cardamom-flavored buns called Lussekatter or ginger cookies known as Pepparkakor and hot coffee to give out as they visit the houses in the parish.
Preparations for Christmas day are also completed on Luciadagen. Families work together scrubbing floors and scouring and polishing pots, pans, and kettles. Lutfisken, a traditional holiday fish delicacy, is buried in beech ashes so it will be sweet and tender for the Christmas feast. Holiday baking and making presents for friends and family members is also completed leaving the rest of the time between Luciadagen and Christmas day to enjoy with loved ones.