The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia celebrated its holiday gala in style Dec. 17 with a healthy mix of modern revelry and Scandinavian tradition.
The chamber’s yearly Lucia gala included dancing, drinking, networking, and importantly, a procession of maidens led by the blonde-haired Lucia, who wears a wreathed crown of candles and sings to brighten one of the darkest of winter nights, both literally and figuratively.
Celebrated on Dec. 13, Lucia was traditionally a night when evil spirits lurked and animals spoke as the darkest day of winter arrived. A blend of religious symbolism and pagan mythology, it has been adapted over centuries into its current form, constituting probably the most authentically Swedish celebration during the Christmas season:
Emily Tepe, also known as IVA, was selected once again as this year’s Lucia in Atlanta, leading into the dimmed room a procession of white-robed maidens, or “tärnor,” serving as backup singers on the traditional Lucia song as well as other American and Swedish favorites.
Ms. Tepe, who lived in Stockholm for six years on a Fulbright and was named Swedish-American of the Year in 2015, said her visit to Atlanta showed the warmth of the Swedish community here.
“I was struck by the friendly people in Atlanta, the delicious restaurants, and how much fun you all had at the Lucia Gala. You are a great group of Swedes and Swede-o-philes and it’s always a pleasure to sing for you,” she told the chamber in an interview. “I love that you include the drinking songs in the party. It’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other and builds real camaraderie.”
Attendees enjoyed a Swedish smorgasbord, including cocktails alongside a variety of Swedish delicacies. They were able to take photos in front of a pepparkakka hus (gingerbread house) background and sample Swedish mulled wine, or glogg, during the event at the Druid Hills Gold Club.
The chamber had no trouble finding support for the gala, which counted Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as its top sponsor. Sweden is a small nation, with fewer people than Georgia, but its companies have invested heavily here, and many economic development leaders attended the event. SACC-Georgia is part of a network of chambers in both countries aimed at building business links.
“We thank the sponsors and the attendees for another successful and beautiful Lucia Gala,” Sara Henrikkson, executive director of the chamber, told Global Atlanta.