by 2009 St. Lucia Jen Fox ’12 (Dec. 9, 2010 homily)
Gud Morgon, allihopa.
Good morning, all.
I will begin with a Swedish poem that is usually read by Lucia on the morning of Lucia Day. It was given to me by a dear Swedish friend.
Jag är ljusets vita brud,
strålande jag skrider fram
likt en morgonstjärna.
När decembers gryning väckt
måste mörkret vika
när lucia hälsar på
fattiga och rika.
While Midsummer is the celebration of the longest day of the year, the Day of Saint Lucia celebrates the shortest. As the darkness sets in Sweden, Lucia symbolizes hope and the return of light to the world.
In Swedish custom, Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions, with clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth. Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. The many Lucia songs have the same theme:
The night treads heavily around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun, the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes, bearing lighted candles, Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
In Sweden, Lucia symbolizes hope and the return of light to the world. As a school rooted in its Swedish heritage, Gustavus’s celebration of the Festival of Saint Lucia is a way in which we keep Swedish traditions alive.
Some of the qualities the women before you and Saint Lucia are recognized for are leadership, service, thoughtfulness, charity, and kindness toward others. Virtues of which we can all think of examples. Upon receiving the honor of SANKTA LUCIA last year, I took it as a charge to instill these values on campus and in the communities in which I take part. By doing so, I have learned more about myself and my surroundings than I ever thought possible.
Today, I would like to challenge you, Lucia, 2010 St. Lucia court, and all of you who believe in the values of LEADERSHIP, SERVICE, THOUGHTFULNESS, CHARITY, AND KINDNESS to evaluate where, in your life, you can take initiative and be the light.
A light in the darkness . . . something everyone needs these days. With the finals’ sleepless haze on campus or the cold and dark days of winter setting in, this is the perfect season to find humility, give yourself new opportunity to serve, ignite thoughtfulness in your peers, and never miss a new chance to show kindness. It is now your time to shine. This is your responsibility.
Make Saint Lucia proud in your community. Be the light.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Darkness can not drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.’
Happy St. Lucia Day!
Editor’s note: The above homily was delivered in Christ Chapel as part of the 70th annual Fesitval of St. Lucia at Gustavus Adolphus College; Below is a short video showing other scenes from the traditional festival