From the Library: Luciafest

in Daily Programme

by Otenth Paderborn on Tuesday, 9 December, 2008

In anticipation of St Lucy’s Day, December 13, From the Library marks a Swedish custom dating to the late 18th century that has spread throughout Scandinavia. The holiday traditionally includes the eldest daughter in a family, robed in white, bringing coffee and saffron buns called lussekatt to her parents while wearing a crown of (lit!) candles. (At left: Lucia, 1908, by Carl Larsson.) Modern public processions of young women and girls are led by an elected Lucia and include boys. The Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia” is sung, with different, national variations of the words. Among today’s traditional music you will hear humorous and unorthodox versions of seasonal nordic music by an American radio personality.

Most of this program’s selections, however, will be instrumental tunes from Sweden and Norway with a sometimes hypnotic quality, attributable to two factors: the instruments used and the original purpose of the music.

nyckelharpa photo by Olov JohanssonThe fiddle is the most common instrument used, but there are two regional variations you will hear: the nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle from Sweden (left, photo by Olov Johansson); and the hardingfele, or Hardanger fiddle from Norway. Both the nyckelharpa and hardingfele have sympathetic strings, adding almost a drone to the music. The accordion, säckpipa or Swedish bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, and jaw harp make occasional appearances.

These instruments (and the composers of traditional tunes) have been placed at the service of dancers: vals, polska, hambo, schottis, polskamazurka, and marches. Whether 2/4, 3/4, or 4/4, the dominant style of scandinavian couple dances is smooth rotation. Dips, turns, and even walking are done with a lilting, controlled pulse. Sometimes known as “turning dances,” these dances often alternate a traveling portion done in an open or varsouvienne position and a turning portion done in a ballroom or barrel hold.

From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life. Today’s program was produced by Otenth Paderborn.

For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world.

You can listen now at — the ideal URL for you to use in your home parcel media address in-world — or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player.


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