PORTER | St. Lucia smiled and carried a tray of buns and coffee into “papa,” who was resting in bed, while Marilyn Arvidson recited a poem.
“Into our hearts she walks, telling her story, candles in her shining crown, lighting her glory,” Arvidson said.
The re-enactment Saturday was part of Holiday Traditions in the Dunes at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Arvidson and other national park and Friends of the Indiana Dunes volunteers helped visitors celebrate Swedish and French Christmas traditions at Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead.
Volunteers in period clothing played the accordion and sang traditional Scandinavian holiday songs while kids visited with Jul Tomte (Santa Claus). A free shuttle transported visitors to Bailly Homestead, where volunteers celebrated “Joyeaux Noel” in French-Canadian fashion.
Arvidson said St. Lucia’s Day is still a major holiday in Sweden. According to legend, Lucia was a young Sicilian girl who was burned at the stake Dec. 13, A.D. 304, after admitting she was a Christian. In Sweden, she became a symbol of light and hope when she appeared after her death with food and drink for the Swedish people suffering from famine.
In better times, volunteer Zella Olson said, Swedes celebrated holidays with a smorgasbord, which was displayed in the Chellberg kitchen.
Lee Morgenroth, of Pine Township, listened to Olson describe the feast, which included inglad sill (pickled herring), potatis korr (potato sausage), fruktsoppa (fruit soup) and fiskefaise (fish balls).
“I’m interested in history and how they lived,” said Morgenroth, who often attends the cultural programs at the park. “This is wonderful, very educational.”
St. Lucia was portrayed by Amelia Boo, of Chicago, while “papa” was played by Henry Studebaker, the great-grandson of the Chellberg family patriarch, Anders.
In a nightcap and nightshirt, Studebaker sat under the covers and admitted he had the best job at the celebration.
“I get coffee and rolls, too,” said Studebaker, of Valparaiso and Dune Acres.
Boo’s mother, Mara, and brother, Griffin, 14, enjoyed the poems and songs about St. Lucia.
“My husband is from Chesterton, so we always come here to take part in all the festivities,” Mara Boo said. “We like to come out here and explore the kids’ Swedish roots.”