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Date: Mon, 15 May 1995 16:42:16 +0200
From: Per.Stam[at]-remove-littvet.uu.se (Per Stam)
Subject: Cute Submarines/ S:ta Lucia
>> Mike Egli wrote:
>> > Okay, heard a lot of comments about Cute Submarine's, here's a
>> > about the lyric
>> > "Here come the girls with the candles on their heads."
>> > Apparently when they were working on the song someone in the band, (I
>> > for not remembering who it was) said that it sounded like ABBA (I
>>don't hear it
>> > but I guess they did). There is a Swedish holiday of some sort or anot=
>> > (maybe someone can fill us in on what it is and it's significance)
>> > walk around with candles on their head. Sounds dangerous to me, don't
>> > much hairspray during that holiday. Anyway ABBA being Swedish and all =
>> > that's where the line came from.
>I think that's called the Feast of St. Lucia. The girls wear white
>dresses and wreaths (halos?) of candles on their heads. It's near
>Christmas time. On first read, though, the lyrics bring to mind a silly
>image of one big candle jutting out of a wee lass's head.
>The act is beautiful if it provokes, and in our hearts reveals, song.
> - Jean Genet
being swedish I should maybe cast some light on this matter
(but first I must say that the sleeve of Illuminate did not make me
think for one second of S:t Lucia - funny how one thing (Abba-soundi=
leads to another (the line "Here come the girls with the candles on
their heads.") and then to another (the sleeve))...
On the morning of the 13th of December we celebrate (in lutheran swedish
manner, but originally heathen I think, I shall duoble-check it) Sancta
Lucia. It's a rememberance of an italian saint who came with light in a
hard time. Just now (but I WILL check) I can't remember the exact location,
the exact century or the exact helpings she fulfilled, or if she really was
More important are maybe the customs. On the morning of the 13th a group of
girls led by a Lucia and all in white dresses/frocks/nightgowns walk around
singing special songs, notably Sancta Lucia and Natten g=E5r tunga fj=E4t,
others not mentioned. Lucia does have 'a halo' of candles on her head,
originally real candles, but you can buy electric candle-halos as well.
She's the leader, followed by the other girls in white, all with candles in
their hands, and boys, called starfellows (in swedish Stj=E4rngossar) in
white dresses and with cones on their heads and a star on a stick. And
their are ginger biscuit boys (pepparkaksgubbar) and sometimes other people
The things they do are 1) sing, 2) serve coffee and ginger biscuits and
saffron rolls (or what it should be called in english).
They sing and serve in schools, at everybodys work etc. The big thing for
the girls is to be Lucia, a kind of beauty contest, and despite the italian
origin of Lucia (dark hair etc) usually Lucia are the most pretty blonde
girl with long hair. But nowadays a Lucia can (theoretically, and in
praxis) look different.
Small children usually have lots of Lucias in one performance. And - if
you're a small boy - no one wants to be a starfellowor a ginger biscuit
boy... it's kinda silly and childish, and you have to sing silly songs in a
=46or juveniles, i e teenagers, it's a custom to be awake the night before
Lucia, to wait for her appearance - and to drink alcohol and be small
monsters. So in the morning of the 13th teenagers are tired and/or drunk
when they come to school... I remember cold beers in winter nights....
Anecdote 1: The Nobel Prize festivities usually are around the 10-13th of
December and the proud Swedes of course wants show their local habits etc.
So a group of one Lucia and her maids (and maybe even poor fellows) wakes
the prize winners on the morning (very early) of the 13th. And the winners
becomes frightened or happy, depending on backgraound, taste for women etc.
The literature winners often write poems about the whole thing (at least
Anecdote 2: My mother was the happy seventeen year old Lucia of her
hometown sometime back in the 40s. Of course a big thing back then. Well,
she was blond and pretty. Etc.
That all, folks,
I might continue, but...
I'd rather hear Eno sing than S:ta Lucia, I must say.
(But I'd rather kiss Lucia...)