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Christmas Lucia Fest

> On Saturday, December 21st, we attended two very joyous holiday celebrations.> > First, we went to the Church of the Savior on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights for the Christmas and Lucia Fest which was put on by Vasa Order of America, Nobel-Monitor Lodge #130. Several people there like Ms. Marty Bergman and her husband Mr. Rolf Bergman recognized us from our attendance at the Leif Erickson Day ceremonies back in October. > > We got to make several new friends though like Ms. Lou Goodwin who used to be employed by A.T. Kearney Company, a management consulting firm, where she worked with Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Ms. Goodwin told us that her grandmother immigrated to the United States from Sweden when she was 16 years old as an indentured servant to a family in Pennsylvania and her grandfather immigrated here when he was 18 years old to work in the mines. They met and they married and moved to Cleveland where he worked for Fanner Manufacturing (near what is now the Cleveland Zoo) until he retired. Ms. Goodwin knows that she still has family in Sweden and would like to travel there someday to connect with them. Other people who knew Ms. Wong were Mr. Bruce Elfvin and Mr. Eric Zalud, a fellow attorney. > > We also spoke to Ms. Kessler who, with input from Ms. Goodwin, told us about the origins of Lucia Day which is celebrated in Scandinavian countries every December 14th. In the 11th or 12th century there was a great famine and Lucia came to them from across the waters with food. On Lucia Day almost all of the churches have big parties and, by tradition, the oldest daughter in every household brings breakfast to her mother. > > At dinner, we sat with Ms. Anita Erson and her daughter, Ms. Susan Erson who drove all of the way to Cleveland from Pittsburgh to attend this event because they couldn't find a Lucia Fest closer to home. They are of Swedish descent and preserving their heritage means a lot to them; Ms. Susan Erson told us how she has a smorgasbord every Christmas Eve but worries that the younger generations are growing further and further away from their origins and customs. > > We also sat with now retired economics Professor Bo Carlsson of CWRU and his wife, Glenda. Professor Carlsson has lead an impressive life having moved back and forth between Sweden and the United States since he first came to the United States as part of an exchange program when he was in high school. Professor Carlsson went on to attend Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford. He spent 13 years working at the Research Institute of Industrial Economy in Stockholm and 36 years at CWRU. Professor Carlsson was also one of the founding members of the International Community Council (ICC) and was at the ICC-WIN event at the Cleveland Convention Center this week just as we were. He is a dual citizen of the United States and Sweden as are his two sons. > > Another familiar face that we saw today was Ms. Minna Mortenson who we encounter every year at the Danish Brotherhood party. Ms. Mortenson brought two young exchange students from Sweden with her who we remembered were at the Danish Brotherhood party too. > > One of the funniest moments of the gathering was when the men's singing group, "Vasa Voices" sang "O, Lutfisk" a song about the Swedish codfish composed to the melody of "O Christmas Tree." Singing this song is something that is done here every year and, even though today was the first time that we heard it, it seemed like it was one of those things that you laugh at every time you hear it no matter how often. > > After the smorgasbord dinner, all of us moved to a bigger room where we listened to the choir sing Christmas carols in both Swedish and English. We then watched as the children walked in wearing costumes to conduct the "Lucia Procession" followed by more Christmas carols. The several hours that we were there were very warm and friendly ones and it didn't matter at all that we are not Swedish or even Scandinavian because everyone was accepted. In fact, Mr. Don Zalud, the father of Mr. Eric Zalud, stood up at one point and humorously told everyone that he appreciated it that they allowed him to take part in this every year because he happens to be Bohemian. It was no big deal. > > After we left the Lucia Fest we drove to Lincoln West High School for "Parrandon Navideno", the annual Julia deBurgos Cultural Arts Center Christmas event for the entire family which offered dinner, gifts for children, and a show put on by the Julia De Burgos students. We sat next to one of the mothers whose daughter is involved in both cheer leading and dancing at the Center. The mother told us that the food and toys are advertised as being available on a first come first serve basis, but this year they had been collecting toys for months so they had plenty of toys and more than enough food. > > The cheer leaders gave an enthusiastic presentation which was fun to watch as was a hula hoop contest conducted on the stage of the auditorium. Then a dynamic singer named "El Unico" sang a bouncy song called "Nino Boperino" from a newly released film titled "Christmas Tears" in which every character is Hispanic. > > We were greeted by Ms. Edna Fuentes Casiano who is Vice President of the Board and, of course, Ms. Leticia Lopez, the Executive Director, told us how grateful she was for our support. > > We always like to visit Lincoln West High School, for which Ms. Wong is a board member. While we were having dinner we spoke to Mr. Nelson Ramirez, another board member, who told us of a program taking place at the high school in January dealing with the development of a successful youth. We immediately put it on our calendar to attend.

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