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Dec 09, 2022 / 07:27

Lucia – most beloved Swedish feast opens in Hanoi

Lucia has become one of the significant feasts for people in Hanoi over the years as they receive the chance to experience a traditional Swedish Lucia procession.

Lucia, one of the most beloved feasts in Sweden, was celebrated at Daewoo Hotel, Hanoi, on December 7 to enable the Vietnamese audience to witness a classical Swedish Lucia procession.

 Lucia's celebration opens in Hanoi on Dec 7. Photos: Hoang Pham

On December 13 every year, Lucia is truly celebrated everywhere in Sweden, in schools and kindergartens, in workplaces - from the factory floor to the board rooms, in the parliament and royal palace, in churches and folk museums, in houses for elderly people and hospitals and all embassies abroad.

This year’s celebration in Hanoi marked the performance of Åsa Jäger, a dramatic soprano who brought the audience the best of Swedish musical tradition through her divine singing.

Attending the ceremony, Do Hung Viet, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Embassy of Sweden hosted its signature Lucia celebration in Hanoi, among other activities, to help bring the centuries-long culture of the Nordic country to the people in Vietnam, contributing to strengthening the people-to-people links between the two countries.

Speaking at the event, Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Måwe highlighted the progress in Sweden-Vietnam relations over the past 53 years when Sweden became the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

It becomes more significant as this year marks the 40th anniversary of Bai Bang Paper Mill, the symbol of Sweden’s support to Vietnam in the early years after the reunification and a meaningful construction for the development of the Southeast Asian country.

Swedish Ambassador Ann Måwe said that the Sweden-Vietnam bilateral relations have shifted from “aid to trade” to more equal relations of mutual benefit. The trade figures are steadily on the rise. And Sweden has 70 multinational companies in Vietnam, with many well-known brands in the market.

This year Team Sweden in Vietnam has arranged a series of activities under the banner “Pioneer the Possible” – a concept that shares examples of new cutting-edge Swedish innovations for the green transition, in line with Vietnam’s trajectory towards an inclusive and environmentally sustainable development for the country.

 The celebration attracts a large number of guests from both countries. 

Lucia

Traditionally, people put on white dresses, light the candles, heat the coffee or glogg, and bring out saffron buns and gingerbreads. The procession starts, and the lovely songs and hymns typical of Lucia can be heard everywhere.

The background of this celebration consists of many layers of Swedish history.

It started as a pagan celebration in the agrarian society. Lucia Night was the darkest night of the year in the old Swedish almanac. It was said to be a dangerous night when supernatural beings were out and animals could speak. In agrarian Sweden, young people dressed up as Lucia figures and wandered from house to house singing songs and begging for food and spirits.

The tradition can also be traced back to the Saint Lucia of Syracuse in Italy. According to the legend, Saint Lucia was a dedicated Christian who gave her dowry to the poor and suffering people of Sicily. The legend has said she died a martyr on the 13th of December in 304.

But the main significance of Lucia – a name stemming from the Latin word lux, which means light – has remained the same: a day to spread light in the darkness and a day to spread new spread hope and dispel despair. 

 Members in the procession. 
Åsa Jäger, dramatic soprano, brings the audience the best of Swedish musical tradition. 
 The audience has the opportunity to witness a classical Swedish Lucia procession.
 Traditionally, people put on white dresses and light candles in Lucia.
 The background of this celebration consists of many layers of Swedish history.
 Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Måwe is graceful in Ao dai (Vietnam's traditional long dress). 
 Do Hung Viet, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs addresses the ceremony. 
 Celebrating Lucia abroad is a must-do activity for Swedish people in this festive season. 
 Lucia's celebration becomes familiar to Hanoians.  
 Overview of the celebration.