Submitted by: Donna Lind
Venture back with us to the early morning of December 13, 1917. The Chellberg household is silent, everyone still snuggled in warm beds. The sky is just beginning to show signs of light, but the forest and duneland that surrounds the family farm is frozen and quiet, snow covering the crunchy ground, leafless tree silhouettes gently swaying into each other.
The only movement in the Chellberg farmhouse is a young girl, the farmer’s daughter, dressed in a white robe, red sash around her waist and seven candles in a wreath upon her head. She wakes her parents to serve them in bed the coffee and warm Lucia buns she has prepared. The family is celebrating the Swedish holiday St. Lucia Day and the daughter is playing the part of Lucia, a 4th century Sicilian martyr who is said to have worn candles on her head leaving both hands free to carry food to poor and starving people in the dark hours of night. She has been celebrated ever since.
This tradition marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Sweden and it was celebrated by the Swedish families that settled in the Dunes area. The Swedish were the first non-English speaking people to live here. These pioneers left behind a legacy and history that is celebrated at Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead in Porter, Indiana.
This tradition also marks the beginning of the Christmas season at Chellberg Farm today. On December 8, the Dunes Learning Center will host a breakfast in their lodge consisting of Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam and traditional pancakes with maple syrup. There will be folk music, seasonal Swedish fun and an enactment of the St. Lucia tradition. At noon, local author and historian, Ken Schoon, will speak about his new book, Swedish Settlements on the South Shore of Lake Michigan.
After breakfast, everyone is invited to Chellberg Farm for a tour of the farmhouse,to visit the chickens and cows that live there and enjoy “Holiday Traditions in the Dunes” presented by Friends of Indiana Dunes and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The Swedish Pancake Breakfast and Author Talk will be held on December 8 from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. The Dunes Learning Center is located at 700 Howe Road and Chellberg Farm is located at 618 N. Mineral Springs Road, both in Porter, Indiana.
Want to learn about more fun events like this? Be sure to sign up for the Dig the Dunes e-newsletter, today!