AXTELL — If you accept Santa Lucia, they will come.
That’s what Shirley Ann Nelson says about the anniversary Santa Lucia anniversary at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was captivated for the 39th year Dec. 9.
“People consistently come, no amount what. One year there was abundant snow, and I looked out the aperture cerebration no one would be coming, but bodies were arriving. We alone had to abolish it once, for a blizzard,” she said.
Nelson chaired the accident for added than 30 years. She assuredly handed the reins to her daughter-in-law Elma Nelson aftermost year, but she still shimmers with memories of the adorableness of the celebration and the way it brings bodies together.
The Feast of Saint Lucy is acclaimed in Sweden every year on Dec. 13. It ceremoniousness a Sicilian woman who was martyred in 305 for abnegation to abdicate her Christian beliefs. She has, fable says, performed miracles anytime since. The oldest babe in a ancestors dresses as Santa Lucia in a white dress and a afire acme and serves coffee and pastries to her parents and siblings.
Last Saturday, that was replicated in the amusing anteroom at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran with cookies, coffee, choirs, carols, comfortable lights and more. Morgan Miller, 15, portrayed Santa Lucia for the additional time in three years. Cutting a white dress, a red bandage and a acme of abundant greenery lit by battery-operated candles, she broadcast about the tables alms accolade and pastries to the 120 attendees.
She was assisted by costumed accouchement alleged bassinet carriers. They were Lexie Anderson, Londyn Johnson, Lucas Bergstrom and Logan Strolberg. They broadcast “dancing pigs,” or tiny red and white mints accepted as Polkagrisar, to guests.
Behind the scenes, six women were active in the kitchen. Four others, cutting white blouses, continued atramentous skirts and white anniversary caps, caked coffee into tiny bottle cups. Scrumptious plates of cookies, broiled by seven abbey women, sat out, too. In the background, a CD played St. Lucia music from Sweden.
A bit afterwards 9 a.m., the lights dimmed, Amy Nelson, Shirley’s granddaughter, accustomed the crowd. The Rev. Nancy Cole, the church’s acting co-pastor, gave a devotion, and the Bethany Men sang “Santa Lucia.” For the 39th time, the anniversary were underway.
Santa Lucia was started at Bethany in 1978 by abbey associates Gwen Abrahamson and Barb Leaf, wife of the pastor. It was a women’s acquaintance accident captivated on a Wednesday afternoon in the abbey basement, which served as the amusing anteroom then. Women set up agenda tables and fabricated red and blooming tablecloths for them. Santa Lucia, bassinet carriers and the Brilliant Boy, cutting a red cap with a brilliant on it, were allotment of the show. At first, it was artlessly an accessible abode with a bit of music, but “everyone capital to break and apprehend the program,” Nelson said, so they tinkered with it to add amusing time amid the songs.
The apparel were fabricated by hand. They fabricated a apparent white about-face modeled afterwards a account of a costumed Santa Lucia beatific by a abbey member’s about in Sweden, but it didn’t consistently fit the Santa Lucia portrayer. Today, Santa Lucia wears a white acolyte’s bathrobe that belongs to the church, with a red sash.
The acme has acquired over the decades, too. The aboriginal Santa Lucia wore a acme afire by candles. Buckets of baptize waited abutting by in case her beard or accouterment bent blaze during the pageant, Nelson said.
“Then Gwen’s bedmate fabricated a Styrofoam acme and covered it with blooming tape. Gwen poked holes in it and acclimated Pen-Lites with batteries for the candles,” Nelson said. That was eventually replaced by a acme fabricated by a Hildreth woman. The acme acclimated today is ordered on line.
Church women able every detail. Nelson fabricated a dress and band and
created a Santa Lucia baby from an American Girl baby called Kirstin, a Swedish immigrant. She stands on a table in the abbey foyer. Nelson’s sister, LaDonna Knapp, fabricated accessories. Abbey women fabricated the servers’ white aprons. Twenty years ago, Nelson additionally fabricated the greeters’ vests and hats and the delicate white aprons beat by the servers. Aftermost year, Joan Jelden fabricated new childrens’ costumes.
“Gradually, old apparel are put abroad and new bodies accompany new ideas,” Elma said.
Every summer, Nelson would accept a Santa Lucia from amid the teenagers in the church. “I’d alarm in the summer to accomplish abiding they mark their calendars,” she said. “Kids are so active these days.”
As the years passed, the accident was confused to Saturday morning so anybody in the abbey could come. The additional Saturday of December was called because added breadth churches had contest on the aboriginal Saturday. The abbey put notices in newspapers in Kearney, Holdrege, Franklin and abbey bulletins in the area.
“They would adorn the night before, but now we adorn on Wednesday night because bodies are so busy. The men help, too,” Nelson said.
In the past, Nelson handled every celebration detail, but back Elma took over, June Wiese has headed the kitchen crew, and retired music abecedary Jan Schneider puts calm the program. Schneider schedules a abrupt achievement every 15 or 20 account because “people acquaint me they don’t accept abundant time to visit.” Abrupt readings are included, too.
Performers appear from the abbey and beyond. This year, Carrie Veal, a abecedary in Holdrege, played carols on her flute. Bailey Rogers, a seventh grader from Minden, sang two carols. “We heard her sing aftermost April and were impressed,” Schneider said. Last-minute adjustments are generally necessary; this year, guitarist Joe Lundeen had a abrupt affliction and could not play.
Nelson was at the celebration Saturday visiting with friends, smiling, listening. “I was consistently too active to appointment with people, but now I can,” she said. She acclimated to arena at alarm at the alpha of the event. “This starts the Christmas season,” she said.
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