Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Swedish Festival
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Swedish Festival

Valerie Kirn-Duensing - December 8th, 2005
The year was 284. It was the height of the Roman Empire when a young noble woman named Lucia (pronounced Lu-see-yah) lived on the island of Sicily. Legend has it that on the eve of her wedding day, Lucia’s mother fell gravely ill. Lucia prayed for her mother’s recovery, vowing to give all of her wealth -- including her extensive wedding dowry -- to the poor if her mother returned to good health. Each day as her mother’s illness eased, Lucia fitted a crown of candles upon her head so that her arms could remain free to carry food to the hungry hiding in caves to escape religious persecution, as this was the dawn of Christianity. Needless to say, her dwindling dowry did not please Lucia’s future husband – especially since it was being squandered on the Christians. He accused her of witchcraft and she was sentenced to death. It is believed she was executed on December 13. Years later the Catholic Church declared Lucia a saint.
Today, St. Lucia Day is one of the best-loved and most traditionally celebrated holidays in Sweden. It is said that Lucia visited Sweden during the Middle Ages when terrible famine gripped the small nation. The story goes that one day a large white vessel loaded with food and clothing appeared on Lake Vänern. At the helm of the boat stood a beautiful young woman in a gleaming white robe, her head encircled by a crown of radiant beams. Once unloaded, the ship vanished, but many people were saved from certain death.

In Swedish households, schools and towns, St. Lucia Day is celebrated in a traditional manner with the eldest daughter waking up before dawn and dressing in a long white robe tied with a crimson sash. Upon her head is a crown covered with green leaves that holds seven candles. The young woman serves saffron buns (lussekatter) to her family while singing the traditional song of Santa Lucia. Even Nobel Prize recipients are awakened at dawn by Sweden’s Miss Lucia and served traditional coffee and saffron buns.
This year St. Lucia will be making a visit to Traverse City on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, December 10, 11 and 12, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Lisa Johansson of Song of the Lakes fame, and Judy Hauser, local author and owner of Punzel Scandinavian Shop near Buckley.
Johansson grew up with a Swedish grandfather on her mother’s side of the family and then married a Swedish man. She and husband Ingemar are the founding members of Song of the Lakes musical group. Hauser’s Swedish heritage stems from spending summers as a young child at her grandparents log home on Walloon Lake where her head was filled with Scandinavian folklore and legend. Her retail shop, Punzel Scandinavian, is dedicated to the memory of her grandparents, as is her newest children’s book, “The Legend of Punzel’s Pond.”
“The message of Lucia is a good one,” said Hauser. “It is about sharing and caring and helping the poor. So much of Christmas has gotten away from this.”
Lucia’s Northern Michigan celebration begins on Saturday when Hauser’s Scandinavian Shop will host an afternoon tea featuring a sampling of traditional Scandinavian holiday treats such as fruit soup, Swedish herring, open face sandwiches, cheese and Scandinavian tea infused with “magic.” Autographed copies of Hauser’s book will also be available as well as an extensive selection of imported Scandinavian goods and many Santa Lucia items. During tea, the Johansson’s will perform traditional Swedish music. , featuring a fiddle, nickel harp and bass flute. Three separate seatings are scheduled beginning at noon. The cost is $20. Reservations are required.

Lucia’s second appearance will be on Sunday as Johansson presents a Santa Lucia Holiday Show of flute music and song. Johansson will be accompanied by 28 of her Northwind Flute Studio students, who range in age from 6 to 18. The show features an authentic candlelit Santa Lucia procession with St. Lucia herself dressed in white wearing a halo of lit candles (in reality, Lucia will be Johansson’s oldest female student). Eight female attendants, several “star boys” and many “jultomptes jultomtar” or little elves will join Lucia. The last and smallest of which will be carrying a straw goat - the “julbok” – a symbol of good luck. Also featured will be Scandic Roots, a quartet with the Johansson’s, Andy Rockwood, and Laura Miller on nyckelharpa (a traditional Swedish key fiddle), fiddle, flute and bass, who will perform Swedish instrumental tunes.
Hauser will do her part by providing authentic Swedish holiday decorations and an afterglow reception complete with Swedish baked goods and a non-alcoholic version of the famed glgg punch.

In the true spirit of St. Lucia, the concert is free of charge with an optional donation to the Women’s Resource Center. The concert begins at 5 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church, 222 Cass Street in Traverse City. Everyone is welcome, especially those in need of camaraderie and good cheer.
On Monday, Lucia bids us farewell as Johansson’s Northwind Flute Choir, comprised of her older flute students, perform a free concert at 9 a.m. at The Children’s House Montessori School, located at 5363 North Long Lake Road in Traverse City. The Santa Lucia story will be told, followed by a selection of several traditional Scandinavian holiday songs.
“I see this as an opportunity for me and my students to share our gift of music,” said Johansson. “I would especially like to invite those who are alone or in need this holiday season to come to the concert and enjoy it.”

For more information on any of the Santa Lucia events or to make reservations for tea, please call (231) 263-7427 or e-mail punzel@coslink.net.

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