Symbolic Act of Handover in St. Stephen's Cathedral on the Occasion of the Swedish EU Presidency

More+Events ♦ Published: December 13, 2022; 22:42 ♦ (Vindobona)

Sweden's next year's Presidency of the Council of the European Union was acclaimed by the Swedish Embassy with a unique event at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. On the occasion of the traditional Swedish Festival of Lights, St. Stephen's Cathedral hosted a concert featuring a Lucia procession to symbolize the transfer of the EU presidency.

In celebration of the Swedish EU Presidency, the Swedish Embassy organized a unique event at Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral, Austria's largest church. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Bwag / CC BY-SA 4.0 (

As of January 1, 2023, Sweden will take over the EU Presidency from the Czech Republic. On the occasion of this important role transfer, a concert in St. Stephen's Cathedral was organized through cooperation between the Swedish and Czech embassies. The resulting festivity was thus intended to represent a symbolic act of handover.

In this sense, H.E. Jiří Šitler, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in the Republic of Austria, addressed the crowd at the beginning of the event with a welcoming speech and symbolically handed over the EU flag to H.E. Annika Markovic, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in the Republic of Austria, who referred in her speech to the tradition of the Lucia festival.

Choirs from Sweden and the Czech Republic performed and lit up St. Stephen's Cathedral with Christmas spirit. Symbolically, the Czech choir played first, followed by the choir from Sweden.

At the beginning of the concert, the Czech boys' choir Boni Pueri performed, singing church songs with their angelic voices and conjuring up a magical pre-Christmas mood.

In the second part of the concert, the 40-member Adolf Fredriks Choir from Sweden amazed the guests with its procession and burning candles, while singing the song Sancta Lucia in the sacred setting of St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Feast of Saint Lucy

In Sweden, Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia is one of the country's most beloved cultural traditions. The Lucia celebration has its roots in a rich mix of pre-Christmas customs.

The feast falls on December 13, Saint Lucy's Day of Remembrance, which was the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) in Sweden for well over a century before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.

Saint Lucy is an important festival for Scandinavian countries and symbolizes the expulsion of evil. During the longest night of the year according to the old calendar, people began to drive away evil and celebrate the return of the longed-for light and Lucia.

The atmospheric Lucia procession is led by Lucia with candles in her hair, followed by maids and star boys, all dressed in white. Seeing and hearing the Lucia procession is one of the quintessentially Swedish experiences.

Embassy of the Czech Republic

Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden