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University traditions put campus in the Christmas spirit

Sankta Lucia Pageant

Annual Chapel Christmas carol-sing, REJOICE, and Sankta Lucia pageant just a few traditions

CHICAGO, IL (December 9, 2008) – With Christmas now less than three weeks away, the North Park University campus and community are celebrating the season with a number of time-honored traditions—some so enduring that few can remember when they actually began.

The annual Chapel Christmas carol-sing, which took place on Wednesday, December 3, kicked off the festivities and was once again marshaled by Rev. Bob Dvorak, retired superintendent of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s East Coast Conference. Taking his station at Anderson Chapel’s grand piano, Dvorak led a string of carols incorporating his own brand of humor and inserting stories about selected songs.

Year after year, the most anticipated musical number is always “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” during which Dvorak sections out the chapel so each day is represented by a group of students, faculty, and staff.

“You are 10 Lords a’ leaping,” Dvorak joked with one balcony group. “Only don’t—because it's dangerous.” Two students also assisted Dvorak in retelling the story of Good King Wenceslas, the monarch who goes out into the cold to give alms to the poor on St. Stephen’s Day.

The music continued on Friday evening, December 5, at the University’s Festival of Lessons and Carols, and again on the following day at the Sankta Lucia Pageant.

Formerly known as REJOICE, the Festival of Lessons and Carols took place at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church and featured the University Choir, Chamber Singers, Women’s Chorale, and University Orchestra. The program honored the birth of Jesus with nine short Bible readings combined with the singing of carols and hymns. Each reading was presented by members of the North Park University and greater Albany Park community.

Saturday’s Sankta Lucia Pageant featured Christmas carols, folk tales, special vocal and instrumental musical selections, and a dramatic candlelight procession with “Sankta Lucia” and her court singing traditional Swedish Christmas songs. Named after the Swedish saint of light, the holiday has been celebrated by Swedes and more recently Scandinavian-Americans. On the morning of Sankta Lucia Day in Sweden, the eldest daughter in each family dresses in a white robe with red sash, and wears a wreath of lingonberry branches and candles on her head. She carries coffee and a breakfast of sun-colored saffron buns and gingerbread cookies to her parents in their room. Her sisters and brothers follow—the girls carrying candles and the boys wearing tall, pointed caps.

Following the pageant, the Lucia Court led the audience across campus—their path lighted by luminaries—in a “Lucia Tåg” (Lucia Train), ending at Hamming Hall, where a special “Lucia Buffé” included authentic Swedish specialties.

New holiday traditions are also emerging on campus. View what could become the University’s newest— an online album with seasonal greetings from a number of campus departments. Merry Christmas!