Ritual: Swedish Advent Stars
Dec 01, 2009
Photo via Creative Commons License from flickr user Ylvas.
It's winter for sure now. Today we have an inch or two of snow on the ground, a bit late for this little Northern Michigan snow pocket. When the moonlight is shining on the snow by 5 pm, it's the time of year to get out the adventsstjärna— the Swedish Christmas star, or welcome light. I like to imagine I've resurrected a tradition once kept by my family generations ago in Norrbotten.
Swedes hang the star lantern in a window on the first Sunday of Advent. I'm a little late this year, but I try to remember to do it on the first of December. It's supposed to stay up until the twelfth day of Christmas (January 6), but I like to leave it up all winter. It really is a welcome sight in the pitch darkness here in the middle of the woods. Ours hangs next to the front door, framed inside the tiny square laundry-room window. I put it on a timer so that it's already lit up after a long day away— and then I don't have to think about turning it off before bed.
The stars come in many designs, made from thin pine or perforated metal or paper. They look just as good alone as they do in groups. Here's my pine beauty, about as simple as they come. My Mom bought it for me after I admired it at Punzel Scandinavian. In the visual din of multi-colored, flashing, inflatable American light displays, I'm happy to walk through the dark to my adventsstjärna, the only light in this forest.
Where to find Swedish Welcome Lights in the U.S.
Most Scandinavian stores carry the stars with their Christmas decorations. You might have to dig through the more popular tomte, flag garlands, and straw ornaments. (I've never been in a Scan store that wasn't packed to the gills!) Here are a few online merchants that carry them. God Jul! —Diane
Nordic Connection (seller of the classic Kronlume lights)
A variety of Swedish Christmas stars and electric advent candles in the window of Ljusexperten (Light Expert) in Linköping, Sweden. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
TAGS: adventssjärna swedish welcome star light scandinavian tradition christmas kronlume
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