Santa Lucia- English Translation - Teaching Children Music

Santa Lucia- English Translation

Learn about Santa Lucia and Sweden

St. Lucia is a Nordic holiday celebrated in Norway, Finland, Denmark, and most especially in Sweden.  I was never really familiar with this holiday until last year, and I have been excited to to celebrate it with my children for almost a whole year- having discovered it after December 13th.

​It doesn't take many YouTube clips to know that "Santa Lucia" is the hallmark song for this holiday.  And yet, I really struggled to find an Santa Lucia English Translation that I really liked.

​Santa Lucia - English Translation

The problem is that the English translations I was finding did not match the rhyme and meter of the original.  Many of the translations used a little more creative license than I prefer, and those that were true to the original were hardly recognizeable as a poem.  In the end, I realized that if I wanted a good translation to teach my children, I would need to do it myself.  So I did!  And I'd love to share my translation with you, and I am open to feedback.  Naturally it is not a verbatim translation in order to match the rhyme and meter, but I did my best.  My husband suggested that I do a separate post on how to translate a song, and what makes a good translation, which I will do later this week.  But today I want to talk a bit about St. Lucia Day, and the history behind it, simply because it's a fascinating subject to me.

​Santa Lucia - English Translation

Night comes with heavy steps through our land, calling.
Sunlight, the earth forgets; shadows are falling.
However dark the night, rising with candles bright,
Santa Lucia!  Santa Lucia!

Though long may be the night, hope, she is bringing,
Hear now, the maid in white, silently winging,
Awed silence in the air, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!

"The darkness soon shall flee earth's darkened shadows,"
Such words she speaks to me, "Over the meadows,
The sun will come again!  Rise in the sky to reign!"
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!

​Translated from Swedish by Tamsyn Spackman.  All rights reserved.

Night comes with heavy steps through our land, calling.
Sunlight, the earth forgets; shadows are falling.
However dark the night, rising with candles bright,
Santa Lucia!  Santa Lucia.

***
Though long may be the night, hope, she is bringing,
Hear now, the maid in white, silently winging,
Awed silence in the air, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia.
***
"The darkness soon shall flee earth's darkened shadows,"
Such words she speaks to me, "Over the meadows,
The sun will come again!  Rise in the sky to reign!"
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia.

​St. Lucia Day Overview

There is a fantastic two-minute video about St. Lucia Day for Kids that will demonstrate what St. Lucia Day is all about, especially for Swedes.  I highly recommend it, and maybe a few other online videos if you are curious.  But in a nutshell, the oldest daughter in the family dresses in a white dress with a red sash, and wears seven candles in her hair.  She wakes up early and serves a traditional breakfast treat to the other members of her family.  Later those representing St. Lucia will deliver gifts to the needy and everyone will celebrate the holiday together.  Other girls may dress as Lucia, but without the crown.  Boys dress as Star Boys, with white tunics to match the girls, and long, pointed hats with silver or golden stars.  Often little people will also dress up as gingerbread children.

The Entities Behind St. Lucia

Who was St. Lucy?  She was a 3rd-century Catholic Saint from Italy.  According to legend, when her father wanted to force her into an unwanted marriage, she ran away and dedicated her life to God, and service to others.  There were Christians who were forced to live in hiding in the catacombs, and Lucy had the means and will to help them with their basic needs.  With so much work to do, she needed both hands free and devised a crown of candles, making her much more efficient.

However, a white-clad maiden with a crown of lights associated with the returning sun comes from the ancient Indo-Europeans.  While it can be very difficult to piece together the original beliefs and dieties here are three places to look.

Perchta ​https://saphari.deviantart.com/art/Goddess-Maker-Perchta-421954086

https://saphari.deviantart.com/art/Goddess-Maker-Perchta-421954086

Perchta, or Berchta, is a goddess who brought good fortune to those kind enough to help her when disguesed as a peasant.  She is the lady in white, associated with winter Yule, who brings toys and treats to good children, and would punish the bad. While she is infamous today for being a Christmas demon, originally she was very loved, and many historians think her negative side has been greatly exaggerated.

Brighid. https://www.paintingdreams.co.uk/product/imbolc__a5-art-card

Brighid is a Celtic goddess associated with Imbolc (Candlemass/Groundhog Day), however her crown of seven candles, her association with the growing strength of the sun, and her descriptions as a beautiful goddess often clothed in white, make her relevant here.

Frau Holle

​Frau Holle is a Germanic entity best remembered for the Grimms Fairy Tale where she makes it snow on the world when she fluffs her bed and the feathers fly.  However, her original role as the wife of Woden (Germany's Odin) make her a prominent goddess indeed.  She is associated with Yule and the Winter Hunt.

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