Early in the morning, on December 14th each year, the Swedes celebrate Santa Lucia Day. The saint and tradition stem originally from Italy, and you can find out more about that via the web. In Sweden, the the girl dressed as Santa Lucia, as well as her followers, wake Mom and Dad early with a tray of saffron bread and other baked goodies along with a pot of fresh coffee -- a pretty nice way to wake up -- along with a variety of Swedish Christmas songs, including the hymn Santa Lucia naturally.
As you can see in the photograph above, the girls who wear candles on their heads protect their hair from fire with a damp towel, worn beneath the crown. In years gone by, it was the prettiest girl in a village who was chosen to be Santa Lucia. However, I have it on good authority (my former Swedish teacher at the University of Pittsburgh) that things are rather different today. Apparently, ALL of the girls get to dress up as the saint now if they want to, including the children of immigrants to Sweden, in the name of egalitarianism. The idea behind that is nice, but I think that the tradition has been watered down a little bit as a result, which is kind of sad. But that's just me.
The Christmas open house at our place was lots of fun last night. The Grand Duchess and I had guests from France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Kenya, China, and Minnesota as well as a host of friends and acquaintances from the U.S. of A. It was, we agreed later, one of the nicest functions we've had. Lots of good conversation, laughter, food, and music. At one point, there was a discussion about the use of blogs, so naturally I was able to hold forth on this subject for a few minutes, which led, in turn, to an opportunity to show off the wargaming figures and table in the next room to interested parties. Unfortunately, all of that means that my carefully guarded geekiness is now common currency! ;-)
Today, it's on to those final four chapters, which are waiting to be proofread just to my left, so I can send everything off tomorrow. And then it's on to tallying and submitting the final course grades for two of my courses this past semester. If there is time this evening, I'll try to get moving on relaying certain requested information to Jonathan, so we can get on with the current turn of The Action at Pickelhaubewicz. . . Finally, if there is any time left before my eyes begin to close, I'll work on another couple of those fusiliers. We'll see.