The Festival of St. Lucia

For over two decades, on the first full weekend in December, we welcomed the Christmas season and celebrated our church's Scandinavian roots with an annual fair and St. Lucia Festival!

Beginning in 2020 and due to pandemic restrictions, we suspended both Fair and Festival.

This year we are returning to an in-person St. Lucia Festival, celebrated during our Sunday worship service at 10 AM on Sunday, December 18, 2022.

The St. Lucia Festival is a Swedish Christian tradition that dates from the 14th century. According to the old Julian calendar, December 13 was the longest night of the year, and thus marked the first step toward spring, with its promise of light and sunshine. It is on this date that the people of Sweden celebrate the Lucia Festival. Christian legend has it that the Romans betrayed Lucia. Later, Vikings impressed by her faith, are said to have brought her legend to Scandinavia from Sicily, where she is the patron saint of fishermen.

We tell the St. Lucia legend and sing Swedish carols. A young woman from the congregation is crowned the "Queen of Light" followed by traditional Scandinavian refreshments in our lobby. The St. Lucia Festival has become a favorite Christmas tradition for many Mainers, whether they're Swedish, Lutheran, or otherwise!

Our very own Queen of Light

You might think that our congregation, with its Swedish and Danish roots, celebrated St. Lucia since its inception. As matter of fact, that was not the case. Instead, one of our beloved and long-time members, Sylvia Carr (1923-2021), instigated what is now an annual celebration. As a native of Maine with Swedish heritage (her family was one of the first to settle in   Stockholm, Maine) she saw an opportunity to bring this celebration of the Christian call to serve the neighbor (all while maintaining an important connection to Scandinavian Lutheran heritage and tradition. In 1992, St. Ansgar began its own tradition of St. Lucia (which has included generations of young women in the congregation - read a 2017 Portland Press Herald story about one family.

This year, as we return to the festival, we do so honoring and celebrating the life and legacy of dear Sylvia. She will be the Queen of the Light to us forever more.