Yesterday was the 12th day of Desember. The night before the 13th day of december, which is the day of Saint Lucia. We celebrate it with a mix of traditions and the day is one of my absolute favourite days of December.
The days between christmas eve, our yule eve, and new year’s night, are called romjul. Among merry companions often translated to room wheel, but it has nothing to do with either rooms or wheels. It derives from the Norse word rómheilagr which translates to ‘what (or when) is not holy by law’ romjul then means the days that are not yule by law. We still celebrate yule with family and friends, but not many of the days are considered holy by law. During this period we ‘go julebukk’ (a bukk is the male sheep, goat, deer or similar animal) which means you dress up to the point where you’re unrecognisable, and visit your neighbours and help them finish off the sweets they’ve made for yule.
The 13th day of December is the day of Saint Lucia. We normally don’t celebrate saints in Norway (being a predominantly protestant nation) but this day is marked both in kindergartens and schools. Children dress in white, bear lights and parade through schools, kindergartens and often homes for the elders, singing christmas carols and the ‘lucia song’.
In the small town where I’m from people mixed all of this up around the same time as many Swedes migrated to the small town to work. This has resulted in the lovely tradition of children dressing up and walking from door to door singing christmas carols. In return they are given some sweets, a smile and praise for their singing. Growing up this was one of the most important days of the year.
Yesterday I took my son to visit my parents and I took him to ‘go julebukk’. It was raining, it was cold and it was dark. In the car my son swore he would not leave his grandparents’ house. He can be rather shy and when he heard he had to visit the houses of strangers he swore he would not open his moth, let alone sing! He still dressed up. He sang on the stairs of my parents’ house. He hesitantly walked over to the neighbours. He sang as they opened the door. They smiled, praised him and gave him a handful of sweets. His face lit up like only a child’s face can. I had to stop him after six houses. A small four-year-old singing alone outside strangers’ houses generated much more candy than what’s good for him.
We’ll return next year.