The holiday season is a time for celebration, traditions, and of course, Christmas markets. One of the most famous and beloved Christmas markets in Europe is the Lucia Christmas Market in Stockholm, Sweden. Held annually in the heart of the city, this market is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the magic of Christmas. In this Berlin Blog post, we will explore the history, attractions, and traditions of the Lucia Christmas Market.
History of Lucia Christmas Market
The Lucia Christmas Market, also known as “Luciamarknad,” has a long and rich history dating back to the 19th century. The tradition of celebrating Saint Lucia, the patron saint of light, on December 13th originated in Italy. However, it was not until the early 20th century that the tradition was introduced in Sweden, becoming an integral part of their Christmas celebrations. In the 1960s, the first Lucia Christmas Market was held in Stockholm’s Old Town, and it has since become an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Attractions at Lucia Christmas Market
The Lucia Christmas Market is a winter wonderland filled with festive lights, decorations, and traditional Swedish delicacies. The market is spread across various locations in Stockholm, including the Old Town, the Royal Palace, and the Skansen Open-Air Museum. The main attraction of the market is the Lucia procession, where a young girl dressed in a white robe with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head leads a procession of singers and musicians. This procession is a symbol of hope, light, and the arrival of Christmas.
Apart from the Lucia procession, the market also offers a wide range of activities and events for visitors to enjoy. One of the most popular activities is ice skating, which takes place at the Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden) ice rink, surrounded by beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. There are also several stalls selling traditional handicrafts, such as wooden toys, knitted sweaters, and hand-painted ornaments. And of course, no Christmas market is complete without food and drinks. Visitors can indulge in Swedish delicacies like saffron buns, gingerbread cookies, and mulled wine, also known as “glögg.”
Traditions of Lucia Christmas Market
The Lucia Christmas Market is steeped in traditions that have been passed down for generations. One of the most significant traditions is the lighting of the Christmas tree at the main square in the Old Town. This event marks the official start of the Christmas season in Stockholm and is attended by thousands of people, both locals and tourists. Another tradition is the baking of Lussekatter, a traditional saffron bun shaped into an “S” and eaten on Saint Lucia’s day. These buns are also sold at the market and are a must-try for anyone visiting.
Another unique tradition at the Lucia Christmas Market is the presence of “Tomten,” a Swedish version of Santa Claus. In Sweden, Tomten is believed to be a small gnome-like creature who brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. At the market, visitors can meet Tomten and even take a photo with him. This tradition adds to the magical and festive atmosphere of the market.
Tips for Visiting Lucia Christmas Market
If you are planning to visit the Lucia Christmas Market, here are a few tips to make the most out of your experience. Firstly, make sure to dress warmly as it can get quite cold in Stockholm during the winter. Secondly, try to visit the market during the week, as weekends tend to be more crowded. And lastly, be prepared to walk, as the market is spread across various locations in the city.
In conclusion, the Lucia Christmas Market is a magical and enchanting experience that should not be missed by anyone visiting Stockholm during the holiday season. From the rich history and traditions to the festive atmosphere and delicious food, there is something for everyone at this market. So, bundle up, grab a cup of glögg, and immerse yourself in the joy and wonder of the Lucia Christmas Market.