CARIBOU, Maine — A Swedish tradition dating back to the fourth century returned to Monica’s Scandinavian Imports in Caribou on Tuesday.
More than 20 people gathered inside to watch 13-year-old Avenea Germain of New Sweden play Saint Lucia in a procession that began upstairs and circled around the first floor of the store.
Following Avenea in the procession as “Lucia’s attendants” were her brother Thanan, 10, and sister Tevny-Rose Germain, 8, and the Ciszewski siblings — Caleb, 12, Tobias, 11, and Annika, 9, all of New Sweden.
Saint Lucia delivered food to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, according to legend. She wore a candle-lit wreath on her head so her hands were free to carry as much food as possible. Swedish settlers brought the Festival of St. Lucia with them in the 1870s when they arrived in the town known today as New Sweden.
This year marked the second time that Avenea played Lucia.
“I like that she was a supporter of the Christians and helped them to survive,” Avenea said of her favorite part of the Saint Lucia legend.
In the procession, Avenea carried a plate of pepparkakor, Swedish gingersnap cookies. Those attending were encouraged to try breaking a cookie into three pieces while making a wish. If they succeeded, their wish would come true.
Monica’s store manager Lukas Lagasse explained that many Swedish families celebrate Saint Lucia’s story by having their oldest daughter carry a plate of the cookies to the family.
As the newest manager of Monica’s, Lagasse hoped to bring back the Saint Lucia festival after at least five years of not having the event at the store.
“It’s a good way to start the Christmas season,” Lagasse said.