Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Festival of Santa Lucia

Wes Carlson, my dad, was Swedish and made Saint Lucia a special tradition at the Inn beginning almost 30 years ago. Each year we love spending time with our guests - decorating the Inn's Christmas tree cut fresh from a local farm; eating cookies, drinking Gloog, telling Troll Tales, holding a Troll treasure hunt and singing carols around the fire. In the morning Saint Lucia delivers coffee and Lucia buns to guests in their rooms followed by a delicious Swedish Smorgasboard brunch. This year's Santa Lucia Festival was a beautiful celebration of community and the spirit of giving. 

Organizers and speakers Paula Maynard, Stephanie Moffett Hynds, MaryAnn Carlson, Father Scott and many local children contributed to Saturday night's pageant at the Saint James Church in Arlington which had a wonderful turn out. We wanted to share with you a few images and excerpts from the evening's presentation and hope it will inspire you to come stay with us next year and enjoy this special celebration.

 Tonight we gather again, as we have for more than three decades in Arlington, to celebrate the Swedish Festival of Light honoring the ancient saint named Lucia, who took it upon herself in 304 AD to do something.  We will also look at this sense of giving of oneself through the more recent stories of a few remarkable human beings from around the globe who, like Lucia, answered and acted on the question … What Can I do? This is the season of hope and it is our hope that these powerful examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things will inspire each of us to think globally and act locally to better the lives of those in need … to become a light where light is needed. 

While the Festival of Santa Lucia is a Scandinavian tradition that has made its way into American culture by way of Swedish immigrants, the origins of this Christmastime celebration are not actually in Scandinavia.  The story of Lucia was written more than 1700 years ago in a town named Syracuse on the Italian island of Sicily.  According to the Sicilian legend, Lucia’s mother, a wealthy lady, had been miraculously cured of an illness. Lucia, a Christian, persuaded her mother in thankfulness to give her money to the poor. So, by candlelight, the mother and daughter went about the city secretly feeding and ministering to the poor of Syracuse. Unfortunately during this time, Christians were being persecuted by the emperor and Lucia was martyred for her beliefs. Those whom she served -- never forgetting her kindness -- spread her story.

Tonight we will honor the memory of this brave young woman who lived almost two thousand years ago far from here, by speaking of the lives of others from around the world who, against all odds, also dedicated their lives to serving those in need, bringing peace and light to their darkened worlds.  The story of Lucia’s life is global and far reaching and the same can be said for these modern day Lucias.

The evening's speakers (children and adults) shared the stories of activists and Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Jane Adams, Nelson Mandela, 

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, Mother Teresa, and even our local community members Sally and Don Goodrich. Their examples connected us back to the message of bringing light into the world - whether thru fighting poverty and working for children's and women's rights in America, helping to overturn apartheid in South Africa, founding the Community of Peace People in Northern Ireland, caring for the poor and ill throughout Asia and India, and building a school for girls in Afghanistan. 

As our friend and neighbor Don Goodrich said:
“We need this kind of hope to cross divides of culture and religion, tribes and nations, families and neighbors – to live with dignity and search for understanding. These things cannot be achieved everywhere and all the time or even predictably, but, it is in striving, reaching for them that life has its meaning.”

Happy New Year Everyone! 
We hope your days are filled with light and happiness.

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