Thursday, 15 December 2011


Last Tuesday, as I walked down Helsinki's main shopping street, Aleksanterinkatu, I stumbled across a short procession that appeared at first gance to be a tribute to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Arthur Brown? You know, the famous psychadelic one-hit-wonder who used to perform his classic 1968 song "Fire" while wearing on his head a crown that was on fire (see below). Those were crazy times, the 60's, maaaan!

Anyhow, the procession in Helsinki featured many children, some dressed as elves and some dressed as choir boys and girls. One of the chidlren, a girl, wore a crown of candles on her head. At the end of the procession, there was a young woman sat on a float, dressed it what looked that white mink (presumably fake) and who was also wearing a crown of candles. Disappointingly, the candles on the crowns were not real, but of the electrical variety.

I didn't really stumble across this procession: I had been tipped off by a co-worker that there would be a procession in Helsinki to mark "lucianpäivä" (Saint Lucia's Day). However, I genuinely had no idea what this was about, so I had to watch in complete bemusement.

I subsequently read up about Saint Lucia's Day, and found out that it is celebrated every year on 13 December in Nordic countries, most notably in Sweden and Norway. In Finland, the celebration is primarily associated with the Swedish-speaking community, but has increasingly been embraced by the Finnish population at large.

Lucia was a saint who suffered a martyr's death in Sicily in the 4th century AD. The candles in the modern day procession symbolize the fire that refused to take Saint Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned.

Quite why Scandinavians have picked that one saint to celebrate is not quite clear to me. Maybe it is a plea for the light to return to the dark winters?

In any case, it seems is has nothing to do with Arthur Brown.


  1. And then fast forward to the '70s!

  2. OMG, that is shocking! I grew up in France so I remember Lizzy Mercier Desclous ("Mais ou sont passees les gazelles" was her big hit), but have never heard that! I'm speechless! BTW, did you notice Serge Gainsbourg at the beginning of that clip?

  3. I did, I was hoping for a duet, but i guess this was a Top of the Pops style pantomime to the studio recording. I had actually never heard this Arthur Brown version before and was pretty shocked that it wasn't a Lizzy original. Crazy.