Northbound – a Winter Solstice and Lucia celebration
December 14 @ 4:30 PM
Come celebrate light at the darkest time of year! Northbound presents a program of Nordic winter songs in 5 part harmony and a traditional Lucia procession.
Northbound is group of five singers from the Boston area with Scandinavian roots. Their music and performances are defined by a love of Nordic vocal music, long time friendship, humor and many years of performing traditional and contemporary vocal music together. For this special Lucia performance they are joined by their children in a candle lit Swedish Lucia procession.
Sankta Lucia celebrations are an important part of the Scandinavian Christmas season, which traditionally begins on St. Lucia Day on December 13 and ends on January 13. Lucia processions announce the beginning of the Christmas season, with Lucia appearing in a white gown and red sash, with a crown of lit candles in her hair. Traditionally the eldest daughter, dressed as Lucia, would carry a tray of buns and coffee to her parents in the early morning in their home. These days, many towns elect a girl to play Lucia for public processions accompanied by attendants of boys and girls who sing songs of the season, performing in churches, community centers, retirement homes, and even shopping malls.
The festival of Sankta Lucia or Saint Lucy in Scandinavia is most simply understood as a celebration of light and hope in a time of darkness. Celebrated close to the winter solstice, much of Scandinavia has just a few hours of daylight at this time. The customs surrounding Sankta Lucia Day are a combination of old pagan customs and Christian beliefs. Saint Lucia was a Sicilian martyr of the Catholic Church, whose story came to Sweden with Christianity. However, the origins of the celebration are certainly pre-Christian and associated with fear of the longest night of the year, when witches and trolls were thought to be about, and people stayed awake in vigil burning bonfires for protection. In addition, a legend dating to the Viking era told of a village starving in the dead of winter, rescued by the arrival of a boat full of life-saving provisions. A maiden stood in the bow of the boat, dressed in white with a glow around her head. It is thought that these legends were conflated with the Catholic saint, and the Swedish Sankta Lucia was born.
Originally Sankta Lucia was celebrated only in Sweden, but during World War II under German occupation, the custom became popular in Norway and Denmark as a way to assert Scandinavian identity, and remains popular all over Scandinavia today. In modern times, Lucia’s crown often features battery operated lights, but Mayo Street’s event will be a rare opportunity to see a procession with real candles and traditional songs from the region sung in the original languages.
The group Northbound is made up of former members of the beloved a cappella group Stämbandet, which performed the traditional songs of Scandinavia for over 30 years in the Boston area, and we are thrilled to welcome these performers to Portland.
Megina Baker, voice and violin
Maria Ericsson, voice and recorder
Karin Holst, voice
Annette Kövamees, voice
Sonja Schmidt, voice
Band: Earl Gingras, guitar & accordion & Ken Lundberg, drum
Lucia procession: Nils, Maia, Linnéa, Lars, Jonas, Tova, Gabriel, Carl & Annelie