Ljuskrona

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Kristianstad central - ljuskrona.jpg
Carl Larsson: "Julaftonen" (akvarell, 1904-05) Ljustaken on table to the right

Ljuskrona is a general Swedish term for chandelier. The plural is identical to the singular form.

The literal translation of the word is "light crown". The term is currently used to describe both the folk art object itself and the Christmas traditions surrounding the creation of ljuskrona and their use. Originally found in Sweden during Jul, this tradition was brought to the United States by Swedish immigrants. Ljuskrona have been found among people of Scandinavian descent since the early 1800s. The ljuskrona is a distinctive candle holder which is wrapped in fringed paper. Ljuskrona have historically been made out of discarded materials and then covered with cut paper.[1] The paper is usually newspaper, wrapping paper or crepe paper in various colors. Although usually thought of as a secular tradition for the home, they are also found in some churches.

In 1988, the Folk Art section of the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a grant for the implementation of a survey to document the practices and styles extant in the United States.[2] The grant led to a traveling exhibition, which included eight styles and ten photo panels. A slide show of the styles and anomalies featured in the project was funded by the Kansas Humanities Council. The project documented approximately 300 ljuskrona, generally created in the Midwestern section of the United States. Oral interviews provided information about family gatherings to rewrap the candle holders, the custom of lighting the candles on Christmas Eve and the occasional candle holder that caught on fire.

There are some areas of Sweden where the tradition still exists as a very private family custom.

Carl Larsson - Ateljen, ena halften - Ett hem - 1899 Ljustaken on top of cabinet in left rear

The term ljuskrona has been used in the United States to describe both “light crowns” (those candle holders that hang, or chandeliers) and ljustaken, “light stakes” (those that sit, candelabras). Technically ljuskrona hang and ljustaken sit. Some families refer to the paper-wrapped candle holders as julstaken, julkrona, jul tradet, or simply Swedish Christmas trees, regardless of whether the object sits or hangs. The type and color of paper used appears to be a personal family decision, with some preference given to decisions made in previous years. Ten distinct styles have been found in the United States at present. There is some correlation with the style that was predominant in the area of Sweden from which the family originated. Four methods of cutting the paper are found in the United States,[3] with variations such as curling, using pinking shears or cutting two colors together to give a variegated effect. Ljuskrona are taken from their hiding place on December 13, St. Lucia Day. At that time repairs or a complete rewrapping will take place. Usually the mother or oldest child teaches the younger ones how to “decorate” the ljuskrona.

The ljuskrona is put away on St. Knut's Day, January 13, as are all of the other Christmas decorations. Some rural families burn the Christmas tree that night.

Carl Larsson Christmas Morning 1894 Ljustaken on table on right rear of this painting

Public collections[edit]

The Nordic Museum of Stockholm, in Sweden, houses models and photographs of ljuskrona. In the United States, ljuskrona exist in the collections of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington; the Illinois Historical Museum in Henry County; the Bishop Hill Heritage Association Museum in Bishop Hill Colony, Illinois; the McPherson County Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg, Kansas; and Winterthur Museum in Delaware.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Clarion Vol.15, no.5 page 49, (winter 1990/1991)
  2. ^ National Endowment for the Arts 1988 Annual Report
  3. ^ Traditions Swedish Ljuskrona, page 7 - Instructions
  • National Endowment for the Arts 1988 Annual report "Lindsborg Arts Council" on page 58 [1]
  • National Endowment to the Arts Exhibition-2013 [2]
  • Traditions Swedish Ljuskrona, page 7 - Instructions [3]
  • Folklife Institute of Central Kansas photographs [4]
  • Paper Cutting Styles in the Clarion on page 51 [5]
  • Illinois Example [6]
  • Kansas Historical Society [7]
  • Winterthur Museum Ljuskrona [8]

Further reading[edit]

  • Country Living December 1994 Vol. 16, No. 6 page 98
  • Tidningen Hemslöjden 1990 Issue No.6 page 14 (Sami)
  • Mid-America Folklore Fall 1990 Vol.18, No. 2
  • Victorian Homes November/December Vol.14, No. 6 page 8