Sweden has the chairmanship of the European Union during the second semester of 2009. This is combined with different manifestations with the intention to make the country better known by the other EU countries. One expression of this was the illumination of two big Christmas trees in front of the Paris Town Hall by Crown Princess Victoria last Monday. The trees were offered by the Swedish State to the City of Paris.
Here we can see the Crown Princess listening to some speeches by some officials, including the Swedish ambassador, and making her own speech.
The trees were then illuminated.
After the illumination of the trees, we had the pleasure to listen to a short concert by the Paris Swedish Church choir, on the Santa Lucia (Sankta Lucia, Saint Lucy, Sainte Lucie) theme, including the Neapolitan Santa Lucia song in Swedish adaption (you can listen to it here) and also some Christmas carols. Saint Lucy should normally be celebrated only December 13, so this was a bit early, but this is clearly part of the Swedish before-Christmas-traditions. Sweden being a basically protestant country, it’s a bit surprising to see the celebration of this catholic saint; there has obviously been a mixture of Christian and previous pagan traditions. Before the Gregorian calendar introduction during the 16th century, Saint Lucy’s day fell on the winter solstice, meaning the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and there is a symbolic image of light overcoming darkness.
When the ceremony was finished, the spectators were all invited to the Swedish Institute, in the Marais, and we walked there in some kind of a procession, unfortunately under rain. In the courtyard, we were invited to some “glögg” drinking, still under rain. “Glögg” is the Nordic version of mulled wine (heated red wine, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, almonds...) . We could then go inside and listen to more beautiful singing. (There should also be a film show, but I had to leave.)