Swedish school: ‘We have not banned Lucia’

A Swedish nursery school has insisted it is not banning a beloved December tradition after a Facebook message posted by a furious parent went viral.

Swedish school: 'We have not banned Lucia'
Children celebrating Lucia in Stockholm. Photo: Jack Mikrut/TT

On Wednesday a nursery school in Charlottenberg in Eda municipality, in west central Sweden, sent a note to parents informing them of its decision to not invite parents to the school’s Lucia event.

However, the note was interpreted by many as the school dropping the Lucia celebrations – a pre-Christmas festival in which children dress up in white and sing Christmas songs – altogether.

The note was shared on social media and went viral, with many parents incorrectly criticizing the school for abolishing the popular December tradition altogether.

The section of the note that seemed to infuriate parents translates as: “We have decided not to celebrate Lucia with a traditional Luciafest with parents invited this year. According to the curriculum we will mark our children's different traditions, we will draw attention to Christmas in different ways with the children in their daily activities.”

The note also goes on to say, “no one should feel discriminated against because of their cultural or aesthetic (sic) background.”

One Facebook user said: “I'm going crazy! Why should we respect their festivals and traditions when we cannot even keep ours that has existed for a hundred years?”

The preschool’s director, Monica Skönnå, was quick to allay parents’ fears.

“There’s been a giant storm around this note, but it has been misinterpreted – the school is not saying it will not celebrate Lucia, but that it will not invite the parents,” she told Metro newspaper.

“We have seen from a child's perspective that they get tired and do not understand the point of so much practising.”

“The wording [of the note] was perhaps a bit unfortunate, but I fully support the staff in this. It says that no one should feel discriminated against because of their cultural background – but it's not about taking away the Swedish tradition but about paying attention to other traditions and to not have parents present.”

Swedes celebrate Lucia on December 13th and the occasion involves a procession led by a girl who wears candles on her head (representing Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy as she is usually known in English) along with a long white gown, singing songs to honour the saint and mark the long nights of the Scandinavian winter.

However, interest in Lucia, and, in particular, finding a local girl to become a Lucia is becoming increasingly difficult.

Swedish Radio's Culture News reported in 2012 that the number of municipalities without an official Lucia was as high as 30 percent, with the number this year likely to exceed that.

Mats Nilsson, an ethnologist, told TT news agency that the declining interest in celebrating Lucia was to be expected.

“Customs and traditions are changing all the time. The Lucia procession is not even a century old; it started in the 1930s.”

“As I understand many young people are uninterested in it. And you cannot force that interest.”


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime