Lucia Fest at Old Swedes’ Church set for Dec. 6 to 8

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From Dec. 6 to 8, Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’ Church), 916 S Swanson Street, will host its annual Lucia Fest.

The Lucia Fest weaves together a number of Swedish holiday traditions into a colorful musical pageant. The heart of the celebration is the Lucia procession in which a young woman is joined by other female members of the household in taking hot coffee and a warm Lucia bun to all the residents of the home. 

She comes crowned with candles, dressed in white, singing her traditional song, “Sankta Lucia.”  In Sweden her day is celebrated in homes before dawn on Dec. 13,  which, at one stage of life with the Julian calendar, marked the winter solstice – the point at which the hours of darkness begin to diminish and the daylight hours begin to lengthen.

At Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’ Church) the celebration is held within the walls constructed by Swedish settlers in 1699-1700, in the beauty of candlelight, with a large entourage of young girls joining her in song and procession. For many people, participation in the Lucia Fest is a unique way of marking the beginning of the holiday season. 2019 marks 83 years of this celebration!

One of the Lucias this year is Isabella Katherine Eisenstein. “Bella” is a resident of Philadelphia and is currently a Sophomore at Philadelphia High School for Girls in Philadelphia.

Presentations will be made at 6 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6 and on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8. The presentations are at 2, 3:30, and 5 p.m. Before, during, and after each of the presentations, the St. Eric’s Fair, a Christmas bazaar that specializes in Scandinavian imports is held in the Parish Hall that adjoins the Church. Food and drinks are available. 

Tickets can be purchased online at until Dec. 2. After that date, tickets will be available on the day of the performances based on availability at the door. Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to make reservations by calling the church office at (215) 389-1513. Tickets are $13 per adult and $7 for children under 12 years of age. The public is invited.  

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’ Church) is located in South Philadelphia on Christopher Columbus Blvd, just to the south of Penn’s Landing, between Christian Street and Washington Avenue. Free parking is provided.