If you want to experience a simpler yet beautiful holiday experience this year take a step back in time in Bishop Hill, Illinois.
From the Quad Cities, it's about a 40-minute drive. Hop on I-74 E and you're there, or take the back roads for a more scenic drive and get ready for a holiday experience that will take you back to a more intimate old-world time. If you've never been to Bishop Hill for the holidays you won't want to miss Lucia Nights.
Bishop Hill's Lucia Nights celebration on Friday, December 10 and Saturday, December 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Swedish tradition is based on the legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light. The legend goes a bit like this: During a famine in Sweden, on the longest and darkest night of the year, Lucia appeared on a ship laden with food. When the ship was unloaded, both the ship and Lucia vanished.
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The tradition continues today with girls waking their families on December 13th carrying a tray of Lucia buns while dressed in white robes while wearing a crown of candles.
Lucia Nights begin in Bishop Hill with the Lighting of the Park Christmas tree at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 10, with music provided by the Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers. The public is invited to bring edible ornaments to hang on the tree. Businesses and museums will have Lucia Girls to greet guests.
Around the village, each building will have a single candle in each and every window, and sidewalks will also be illuminated by candles. Restaurants are open both evenings. Special Christmas gifts will be on sale.
According to the event's social media page, on both evenings, Bishop Hill will be hosting a wide variety of free Christmas activities. At the fire station, the Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers will be performing each night at 6:15 p.m., followed by Jazz on the Side at 7:30 p.m.
At the Steeple Building Museum, Hammer and Pick will be playing a variety of Christmas and folk music from 6 to 9 p.m. The VASA National Archives will have a closing reception for their Local Lodge Names exhibit.
Also at the Archives, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis will share a medley of Swedish and Pioneer Christmas stories and songs from 6 to 8 p.m. In addition, the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church will host its annual soup and chili supper, beginning at 4:00 p.m. A free-will donation is appreciated to cover the cost of the meal. Finally, the Colony Church will have Lucia and Tomte selfie stations.
This has been a family tradition for a long time. One piece of advice. There is a weird character dressed in a straw headdress that looked like a goat. He/it found it funny to surprise me at every corner. I'm not a fan of people dressed in costumes where I can't see their face! I'm sure you'll love it.
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