Swedish students bring Lucia ceremony to Enniscorthy
A group of Swedish students on an Erasmus exchange to Enniscorthy showcased a bit of their own culture in St John's Hospital where they performed their 'Lucia' ceremony.
The students, from Carlforsska gymnasiet school, in Västerås, Sweden, were involved in an exchange that has taken place for the last 12 years.
Speaking to this newspaper one of the teachers who accompanied the students, Anne Kämäräinen, said everyone loves coming to Enniscorthy because the people here 'are very friendly and welcoming'.
Carlforsska gymnasiet is an upper secondary school and Ms Kämäräinen said: 'We have had an Erasmus+ EU exchange with Enniscorthy Vocational College for 12 years.'
The students involved in the Lucia celebration [which celebrates St Lucy's Day] were participating in three weeks work practice in Enniscorthy - similar to what Transition Year students here get involved in.
The students who travelled this year were Health Care and Business students.
'Lucia is celebrated all over Sweden in most of the schools and many other places in [the country],' Ms Kämäräinen told this newspaper.
'Many towns have their own Lucia and Sweden has its own every year from different cities,' she added.
The ceremony which involves singing and performing while holding symbolic candles is televised nationally in Sweden each year.
'The Swedish old calender said that December 13 was the darkest day of the year so Lucia brings light that day,' said Ms Kämäräinen.
In addition to St John's the students also visited St Senan's school and St Patrick's special school during their time in Enniscorthy.
Although now retired, Bengt Goran Alleson was involved in the exchange from the very beginning and he also accompanied the students on their recent visit.
'It began when a Principal in Sweden made contact with [Dr] Iain Wickham and Sean Murphy from the Vocational College,' said Mr Alleson.
'We came here because we wanted an exchange with an English speaking country as we teach English from fourth grade,' he said.
'The Principal of the school met Sean Murphy at an event and from there the relationship between the two schools grew.'
Ms Kämäräinen said the exchange was beneficial for all of the students concerned while Mr Alleson commented: 'There are fantastic teachers in the Vocational College and Anne is the coordinator now.'
Ms Kämäräinen then said: 'We leave the students here for 10 days and then we come and collect them.'
'We always stay here with Colm and Anne,' she added, referring to the
owners of Blackstoops Lodge guesthouse, whom she described as being 'incredibly welcoming and friendly hosts'.
While we met Anne and Bengt at their accommodation the students performed their Lucia ceremony for the guesthouse owners and their family.
The group was composed of: Kevin Bang, Rahma Hussen, Tora Jarn, Sina Mohammadi, Ida Jonsson, Nilla Muco, and Moa Dimberg.