The magic of Santa Lucia

Published 11 December 2014 in:

I ended my last blog with a reference to the upcoming Santa Lucia celebration in the Kościół Świętej Trójcy in central Warsaw. It became an unforgettable Friday evening that we spent together – almost 900 of us: from Poland, Sweden and even some other countries.

I had never expected that kind of overwhelming interest.

Additionally the choirs from Warsaw and from Uppsala were just amazing. And for me as a Swede it was a very special experience to celebrate Santa Lucia with many of the well known traditional Christmas songs in this setting. Being abroad from one fundamental point of view – but at home in another sense.

Our Embassy has for many years organized Santa Lucia-receptions together with the Swedish Business Club for a limited number of invited guests, and we are of course continuing to do so. But this time we decided that we wanted to present this rather unique tradition in an open way to a broad Polish audience. (More information about the background is available here). Luckily the results surpassed all my expectations.

To be honest. the magic of Santa Lucia in this context made tears come into my eyes.

But I believe there was one additional reason for the very special atmosphere that evening. The Swedish choir originated from Uppsala (for sixteen years my hometown) and a partner congregation there to the Evangelical Church here in Warsaw. Thus, this became a joint Polish-Swedish event, conforming the deeply rooted relations between us. We shared something beyond the formal documents and established routines that otherwise often dominate my everyday life.

My calendar is packed these days. When I speak to colleagues I realise that this goes for all of us. So much needs to be finished before Christmas (in our case the plan for our promotion activities 2015-2016 as one of several examples). We try to squeeze in meetings and ceremonies in every possible time slot. And we are already looking into January and February to see what the priorities should look like.

Luckily things are under control, I believe.

One activity that definitely ended well was our Student Essay Competition around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that we co-organized together with our British colleagues and the Polish Institute for International Affairs, PISM – in our case through our economist Elenor Hansson Lundström as project leader. At a ceremony last week we presented the award to the winner, Ms Olga Nowicka, who participated with a contribution on small and medium sized companies and their prospects. Six other students were also rewarded. And just the opportunity to discuss these issues with them as guests in our Residence made the day for me.

Yesterday – which was both the Nobel day and the International Day for Human Rights – I was delighted to see the 17 year old Malala Yosafzai (and the child rights Indan activist Kailasha Satyarthiego) receiving the Nobel peace prize in Oslo.

”They can only shoot a body, they cannot shoot my dreams”, Malala said some time ago in an interview with CNN that deserves to become classical.

She is the first child to receive the Nobel peace prize. The world needs many more Malalas, because there are unfortunately so many others that promote the primitive ideas of men’s supremacy, so many others that prevent girls from exercising their fundamental rights, like the right to education.

A 17 year old brave girl from Pakistan can change the world.

That reminds us that we can all, in bigger or smaller scale, make a difference.