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Elim Lutheran Church is trying a new twist on an age-old tradition.

This is the third year that the Hooper-area church will host a Santa Lucia procession, which involves candle-carrying girls.

But this year, the church hopes to include boys dressed as Wise Men in the procession.

The procession will be part of the church’s Christmas Eve candlelight worship service. The public is invited to the service, which starts at 5 p.m. Dec. 24.

In the meantime, the church is looking for girls and boys who will participate, said the Rev. Judy Johnson.

Girls and boys ages 3 and older — who are members of the church as well as visiting family members and/or friends — are welcome to be part of the procession.

And while the tradition of girls carrying candles will continue, Johnson and the church look forward to implementing the new idea.

“We hope to include boys in the garb of Wise Men with crowns and stars,” Johnson said.

Boys will portray Wise Men following the light of the star to Bethlehem.

To make sure enough robes, candles and crowns will be available, those who wish to have their children participate are asked to contact Johnson or Kara Greenwood Anderson by Dec. 1 with the number and ages of children who will process.

Johnson may be reached at 402-380-1990 or 402-372-229, or e-mail: judith_k_johnson@yahoo.com.

The Santa Lucia procession dates back to about 300 A.D. when according to legend, Sweden was plagued with a terrible famine.

A woman, named Lucia, is said to have appeared in a large ship on a lake.

Dressed in white, with a wreath of twigs lit up upon her head, Lucia brought food and clothing for the starving people.

The celebration of Lucia’s life brings much joy, Johnson said.

Even today in communities all around the world with large Swedish populations, families celebrate Santa Lucia by having a daughter in the family dress in a white dress with a red sash and a wreath made of lingonberry twigs.

Atop the wreath are seven candles that symbolize the welcome light that Lucia brought to her people in their time of need.

“The Santa Lucia procession is a lovely way of incorporating Swedish traditions at Elim Lutheran Church, founded by Scandinavians in 1871,” Johnson said.

Elim’s Christmas Eve worship will begin with a Santa Lucia procession from the entrance of the sanctuary and conclude with the lighting of the Christ candle.

During the procession, the congregation will sing, “Christ, Be Our Light,” with Christmas lyrics which Johnson wrote.

Girls will be dressed in white robes and red sashes and will carry battery-operated candles, leading the procession to the altar. Boys will wear Wise Men’s attire.

Candlelight will illuminate the sanctuary until the end of the procession.

Elim Lutheran Church is at 2312 Swaburg Road (County Road D), Hooper. It is two miles south of Uehling on U.S. Highway 77, and one mile east.

Johnson noted that it’s good for young people to learn about the Swedish traditions and hopes area residents and visitors attend.

“We encourage everyone to join Elim’s congregation for this very moving Christmas Eve worship service,” Johnson said.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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