“We have decided not to have any requirements as to gender,” Viveca Byhr Lindén, the project leader for this year's Lucia ceremony in the city, told The Local.
“Before, we have always asked for a female, but we decided not to do that this year. It's because we realize now that people don't always identify with a gender.”
The festival of Lucia, or Saint Lucy, on December 13th is one of Sweden's most enduring winter traditions, with town celebrations long functioning as unofficial beauty pageants, stiff competition and the winner more often than not a pale-skinned maiden with long blond locks and a beautiful singing voice.
But Byhr Lindén said that this year Sweden's third-largest city would instead be selecting its Lucia on the grounds of the good deeds they had carried out over the year, and their engagement with the city.
“We don't want any pictures of the people who apply, and we don't care if you can sing,” she said. “We don't want to get stuck in the traditional Lucia.”
With two days to go before Friday's deadline, the city has so far received 12 nominations and hopes for about ten more.
It will invite candidates to an interview with its six appointed jury members next week, with the winner announced on November 30th.
The city's Lucia will then tour old people's homes and hospitals in the city, along with their train of five “stjärngossar” or “star boys”, and six “tärnor” or “handmaidens” before the big procession on December 13th ending with a concert in the central Stortorget square.
Byhr Lindén said that the recruitment process for the star boys and handmaidens would not be gender-neutral and they, unlike Lucia, have been chosen for their singing ability.
“They will be boys,” Lindén said of the star boys. “They have been chosen already this spring from the music school at Malmö Latin. This year we have a very good quality.”