Sunday, December 13, 2009
My Swedish-Lutheran people have been perfecting this holiday over the years. What it "means" or why it's celebrated is barely important. But the cultural impulses are all over these rituals.
1) It is an excuse to be lavish with candles. Hard to overstate the importance of outbursts of light in a places where dark is the norm for about four months.
2) It gives young people an activity that is actually educational. Got to learn music and arriving in the right place to sing it. Folks actually have fun doing this sort of thing.
As can be imagined, these cultural motors can result in elaborate, well-rehearsed productions. What appears below is this year's celebration at the Vaxjo Cathedral as produced by the official national television channel of Sweden. The King was probably there. Vaxjo was the nearest big town for my grandmother as a child and there are lots of Swedish Americans whose ancestors are from that area.