Luciatåg: Saint Lucy’s day (Sweden): Corona Edition

St. Lucy’s day (Luciatåg) is very popular holiday in Sweden. (You can read more information about the celebrations in the main post here). The festivities consist mainly of singing in procession. Any pandemic restrictions including gathering of people in larger numbers are therefore a threat to the common form of the ritual. Despite the Covid-19 situation being on the downgrade during the end of last year, the people of the swedish city of Malmö experienced ravishing new way of this tradition.

Thanks to the members of the choir called Malmö Academic Choir (Malmö Akademiska Kör in swedish) and their initiative and creativity the procession of Lucys singing and bringing light and joy to people arrived in the city center – almost like everything was normal during that time. The “almost” is there only because of one major difference: the choir members were singing while riding on electric bycicles.

The idea of saddling up scooters came from Erika Norén, the chairwoman of the choir. She said (rephrasing), that thanks to the scooters they were all constantly moving and so avoiding people and crowds. Also the singers could not get too close to each other. The vehicle (during that time newly installed in the city) therefore allowed them to preserve the processional part, but never arrive, as said the conductor of the choir Daniel Hansson.

The choir did not have any rehersals due to the limits for meetings (no more than 8 people), so the practice was made individually. Before they rode out for real, they had some practice rides to get familiar with the driving and singing at the same time. After that all the asymptomatic members gathered behind the St. John church, put their lucialinnen robes over winter coats and got on the scooters.
Erica Norén said (rephrasing), that it is actaully easier to stand on the vehicle and sing than do the same while walking.

In the eyes of the members of the choir it was better for viewers to hear only 10-20 seconds of life music than hearing the whole thing as a streamed concert. The music comes to you from mouth of the singer to your ear – in this sense it is direct connection, transfer of the waves coming from vocals through air and then hitting your ear drums as actual connection. For me it is like a audio caress, said Daniel Hansson.

They used their lights on the scooters resembling the candles that St. Lucys usually carry and went like that – with the lights and music – through the centre of the city. But they did not indicated their route publicly before to avoid huge crowds. St. Lucia night is about sharing and spreading the light, so this year it was even more important to preserve the ritual, even in a slightly adapted way.

Malmö University article (in swedish)
Pictures of Malmö University Choir
Article by Sandra Stendahl (in swedish) with short video of the event
Youtube video of the event
Spotify playlist of Lucia songs
Interview with the conductor of the choir Daniel Hanssen