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SAS -- THE CLOSEST THING TO HEAVEN ON SANTA LUCIA DAY, DEC. 13

 LYNDHURST, N.J., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- While Christmas-time in Scandinavia is famous for its unique charm, wonderful traditions and festive celebrations, SAS-Scandinavian Airlines passengers will enjoy a special treat 30,000 feet in the air as they awake on the Newark-Stockholm flight.
 Santa Lucia, a festival of light, will be presented on board SAS on Dec. 13, as members of the cabin staff don traditional white robes and Lucia, wearing a crown of (electric) candles, leads passengers in the singing of traditional songs. Swedish Pepparkakor (ginger snap) cookies and coffee are then served in this festive atmosphere as they approach Sweden's capital city.
 This year, SAS decided to hand out a brochure explaining the morning Lucia presentation and the history of the celebration. The reason for this advance notice? Some passengers have reported being startled, when they thought they had awakened in heaven upon seeing what looked like an angel walking down the aisle.
 The Lucia legend can be traced back to Italy, where Lucia was born of noble parentage in Sicily. Lucia secretly vowed to dedicate her life to God and distribute her wealth to the poor, but unaware of this, her mother arranged her marriage to a pagan man from an influential family. Her unsympathetic suitor brought her to trial under the accusation of witchcraft and she died a martyr's death at the stake on Dec. 13, 304 AD.
 The legend became linked with Sweden because of the Feast Day coinciding with the shortest day of the year at that time. Since then, Sweden has adopted the Georgian calendar (1753), as well as the celebration honoring Lucia.
 Now, throughout Sweden on Dec. 13, children dressed in white wake up their parents early in the morning to serve them a breakfast of ginger snap cookies and coffee in bed, and sing traditional Santa Lucia songs. The eldest daughter, playing the role of Lucia, wears a crown of candles, and throughout the day Lucia-Queens are crowned in most Swedish cities in schools, at work and during special celebrations.
 SAS offers three-day weekend fares to Stockholm, starting at $459 from Newark; $559 from Chicago; and $659 from Los Angeles or Seattle.
 -0- 12/6/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: A black & white photograph of the Lucia celebration on board SAS aircraft is available on INS PhotoLink Network.
 For a photograph or additional press information call the contact below./
 /CONTACT: Nils Flo of SAS, 201-896-3690/


CO: SAS-Scandinavian Airlines System ST: New Jersey IN: AIR SU:

CK-WB -- NY077 -- 0847 12/06/93 13:47 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 6, 1993
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