BISHOP HILL – Bishop Hill will hold the 2019 Lucia Nights celebration from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday Dec. 14.

This Swedish tradition is based on a legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light. During a famine in Sweden, on the longest and darkest night of the year, Lucia appeared wearing a long white robe and encircling her head was a crown of candles. Legend has it that Lucia appeared on a ship laden with food. When the ship was unloaded, both it and Lucia vanished. Girls in Sweden today wake their families on Dec. 13 carrying a tray of Lucia buns while dressed in a white robe and wearing a crown of candles.

Lucia Nights begins in Bishop Hill with the Lighting of the Park Christmas tree at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, with music provided by the Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers. The public is invited to bring edible ornaments to hang on the tree. Evening attractions include free musical performances in various locations in town. Businesses and museums will have a Lucia girl serving cookies. Around the village, each building will have a single candle in each and every window, and sidewalks will be illuminated. Restaurants are open both evenings. Special Christmas gifts will also be on sale.

On both Friday and Saturday evenings, Bishop Hill will be hosting a wide variety of activities. At the Fire Station, the Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers will be performing each night at 6:30 p.m., followed by Jazz on the Side at 7:30 p.m. The VASA National Archives will have a closing reception for their WWI and WW2 exhibits. At the Steeple Building Museum, Hammer and Pick will be playing a variety of Christmas and folk music. In addition, the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church will host the annual Soup and Chili Supper, beginning at 4 p.m. A free-will donation is appreciated to cover the cost of the meal.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14., there will be an Old Fashioned Barn Dance at the Colony School. The Sangamo Stemwinders will be performing. All dances taught and called by Gail Hintze. Admission is $5 per person, and beginners are welcome. No partner is necessary.

Lucia Nights is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Arts Council, Bishop Hill Heritage Association, Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Old Settlers’ Association. VASA National Archives, Bishop Hill Volunteer Fire Department, and numerous local businesses. This event is also partly funded by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and Community State Bank.

For more information about Lucia Nights, call 309-927-3899, visit bishophillheritage.org or view the Bishop Hill Heritage Association Facebook page.