North Park University Prepares for Annual Sankta Lucia Pageant Dec. 10

Sankta Lucia
According to legend, Sankta Lucia brought light and food to hungry people. In a typical pageant, Sankta Lucia wears a crown of lighted candles, symbolizing her meaning to early Christians.
(Photo by Steve Elde)

Event celebrates saint known for bringing light into the darkness

CHICAGO (November 28, 2011) – North Park University's annual Sankta Lucia (Saint Lucia) Pageant is Dec. 10, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the University's Anderson Chapel. The event is a traditional Advent celebration similar to events honoring the saint held in Scandinavian and other European countries.

The University's Sankta Lucia Pageant will begin with a program by a singing group called Pepparkaksgubbarna, which means "gingerbread guys." These colorful characters will sing and dance. Everyone will join in the singing of Christmas carols. Students in the University's Scandinavian Studies and Swedish language programs read the Christmas story in English and Swedish from the Gospel of Luke, tell of Christmas traditions in Scandinavian countries and here in the United States, and recall the story of Sankta Lucia. The program will conclude with a Sankta Lucia pageant featuring students singing Swedish Christmas carols. About 400 people are expected to attend.

According to legend, Lucia was a young girl who lived in about 300 AD. She was the target of anti-Christian sentiment, was blinded and executed. She is now associated with both light in the darkness, and the hospitality of food and drink. The traditional date of the festival of Sankta Lucia is Dec. 13, celebrating the light returning to the world on the darkest day of the year, just as her faith brought light to a dark period for early Christians. In pageants, the Sankta Lucia normally wears a crown with lighted candles, and is accompanied by a court, including "star boys," who carry stars.

"The event is an Advent preparation for Christmas," said Dr. Charles Peterson, director of the University's Center for Scandinavian Studies and dean of the college. "It is an opportunity to show Sankta Lucia as a model for caring for hungry people in a dark time, which is part of the legend. She was martyred, and the legend is that she came back to Sweden at the darkest time of the year bringing food to hungry people."

Stephanie Brooks' original artwork to be auctioned. Stephanie Brooks' original artwork to be auctioned at the smörgåsbord.

Following the program, a Swedish smörgåsbord will be served at the University's Hamming Hall. Stephanie Brooks' original artwork for the University's Sankta Lucia Pageant will be sold to the highest bidder.

Tickets for the pageant are $2 per person, and may be purchased in advance or at the door on the evening of the performance. Tickets for the smörgåsbord are $15 for adults, and $10 for children under age 12. These tickets must be purchased or reserved in advance online or by calling (773) 244-5592.

The role of Sankta Lucia will be played by Hannah J. Williams, Minneapolis, a North Park University senior majoring in both Scandinavian Studies and Media Studies. "I grew up in the Covenant Church, and we always had Lucia pageants," she said, adding that she has participated in other pageants. Williams is president of the Scandinavian Student Association and captain of the University Women's Ultimate Frisbee team. She is a member of Bethlehem Covenant Church, Minneapolis.

Williams will also be the University's representative in the City of Chicago's Sankta Lucia pageant on Dec. 13 at the Daley Center. Lucias from other Swedish-American organizations will be represented. The North Park University Chamber Singers will present a recital of Christmas music prior to the city's pageant. Twelve singers will perform under the direction of Dr. Julia Davids, the Stephen J. Hendrickson Endowed Chair of Choral Activities, School of Music.

North Park University was founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), formed by Swedish immigrants. North Park University is affiliated with the ECC, and maintains a connection to its Swedish and Scandinavian roots through academic programs and other cultural exchanges.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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