Saturday, December 13, 2008

American Girl Dolls

Heidi as St. Lucia
circa 1984

Once upon a time I had some little American Girls. They were absolute dolls. Every December 13th at our house we celebrated Lucia Day, (because of my Swedish grandparents.) It was a great tradition where I made a crown out of a paper plate, clipped on little red candles, placed it on the head of one of my precious daughters and LIT IT ON FIRE! Little Swedish girls had done it for centuries...hey, singed hair is the price of heritage.

(Eventually we got a safe replica of a St Lucia Crown. It had fake candles lit with batteries.)

My version of the legend is this:

Lucy was a young Christian girl martyred for her beliefs centuries ago in Rome. She was made a Saint, and remembered as St. Lucia in the Scandinavian countries. One especially dark and hopeless December the village people were starving. From across the lake they could see a blaze of brightness coming toward them. It was Lucia, her blond hair encircled by a halo of brilliant light, wearing a white robe with a red sash, bringing them bread. She was accompanied by young boys, their faces also illuminated as if by the stars, hauling sacks of food.

Since then the day has been celebrated as the Festival of Lights in Sweden. In some families the oldest daughter wakes up before dawn, and prepares a breakfast tray for her parents. She dresses in a white robe, with a red ribbon sash and wears a crown of candles. Her younger brothers play the part of the Star Boys, also wearing white, carrying pictures of stars. This is the start of Christmas festivities in their home.

I'm not sure of the meaning others give this tradition. To me, Lucia Day symbolizes the light Christ brings to the world, and the Bread of Life He gives us. He gives a dark world hope. It's a lovely way to remember the reason I celebrate Christmas.

Five little American Dolls.

This year I took five of my little American dolls to see a festival of lights. There were hundreds of Christmas trees, each stunning and unique, all donated to the annual Festival of Trees in Salt Lake City. The trees are auctioned off for thousands of dollars apiece, and every penny goes to the Primary Children's Medical Center to help sick children. We were excited to see the elegant tree Aunt Polly (my creative sister) worked on for months and months. The girls were thrilled to see her name on the Decorated By plaque.

Click on these photos to see more detail

I was touched to see many trees decorated in honor of someone who had died, particularly those dedicated to children, using as a theme their hobby or interest, or treasured keepsakes. One tree was trimmed using golf balls painted bright colors, with other golf paraphernalia. There was a sign that read "If you can't golf in heaven, I don't want to go." Another was adorned with vintage toy trucks and cars, remembering a sweet "Little Trucker."

But there was a particular tree that captured the attention of my little girls.

Dozens of Dolls

It was adorned with dozens of American Girl dolls,
each character represented in every single one of her outfits...

...surrounded by all the accessory furniture and extra frills. It was amazing.

And there she was:
Kirsten, the Swedish American Girl Doll
dressed as St. Lucia.

My little dolls were beaming!

What lights up your Christmas season?


Sheri said...

I love the Swedish tradition of St. Lucia, but had never heard the story. Thanks. The Swedes really need to go around with candles on their heads throughout the winter months--it's soooo dark there!

My Swedish great grandmother had EIGHT daughters. I'm sure they celebrated St. Lucia custom every year in Logan.

Polly said...

Thank you for telling the story. I had forgotten it! And I wish you had been my photographer at the festival! your pictures were so much better. Didn't you love the American Girls tree! When I saw Kirsten on your blog I wanted to have Whitney and Marta over to play.

Ashlee said...

My neice is named Kirsten because her grandmother was from Sweden. In fact, they called her Farmor {I don't know if that is spelled right, but I was told that meant Grandma in Swedish}. Anyway, when they came out with this doll it was almost too perfect. Our little Swedish Kirsten was able to have a little Kirsten doll from Sweden! :0)

Doll Clothes Gal said...

What cute photos and what a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

moon said...

I didn't know anything about this tradition..I love learning of the stories from other cultures! Love all the pics also!!

gab said...

Ooooo...that was so festive!

Keri(th) said...

Now that looks like a tradition for my family; open flames and beaming smiles. Wonderful!