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Thursdays in Black meets Saint Lucy in Sweden

Thursdays in Black meets Saint Lucy in Sweden

Saint Lucy’s Day performers wear black ribbons in support for Thursdays in Black. Photo: Julia Pettersson/Sändaren

17 December 2018

A group of Swedish Saint Lucy’s Day performers swapped the traditionally red ribbons for black ones this year, in support for the Thursdays in Black campaign.

“We believe the campaign can help open people’s eyes to what is happening today, both in our own communities and around the world. And that we can urge people not to turn a blind eye, but stand up for what is right,” says Josefin Roos, who has been coordinating the group.

“Many of us are engaged in questions around domestic violence, and we are all keen to raise the question of how we as humans should treat each other,” she adds.

Saint Lucy’s Day, 13 December, was marked on a Thursday this year. The Swedish tradition is to celebrate the day through early morning processions of candle-bearing women and men singing Christmas hymns, dressed in white and with red ribbons around their waists.

Photo: Julia Pettersson
Photo: Julia Pettersson/Sändaren
Reactions to the black ribbons worn by this group have varied, but most have been positive.

“Some people have been upset when they heard about our initiative, believing that we will be bringing a message of mourning. But that’s not what this is about. We are bringing light onto these questions, to lift us up a fellow human beings and encourage us to care for one another,” Roos says.

“And all other reactions have been very positive, and we’ve received so much love and encouragement both from people we know and people we don’t know,” she adds.

While not everyone in the group is member of a church, it was Josefin’s engagement in the music life of the Uniting Church in Sweden that led to the opportunity to perform on and around Saint Lucy’s Day in Vårgårda municipality this year.

“Since 2013, Thursdays in Black has been highlighted in a variety of ways by the Uniting Church in Sweden, Church of Sweden, and the Christian Council of Sweden,” says Gunilla Ikponmwosa, coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, as well as World Council of Churches projects at the Uniting Church in Sweden.

“One of the challenges is to find cultural and contextual expressions so that the campaign can come close, and touch people… We can see Saint Lucy with Thursdays in Black as an inspiring example that will hopefully be followed by more people,” Ikponmwosa concludes.

Thursdays in Black campaign

Just Community of Women and Men

Uniting Church in Sweden

Church of Sweden

Christian Council of Sweden