Ingrd Enkell is this year’s Lucia. Photograph: Folkhälsan/Henrik Schütt

In mid-December, a special celebration takes place in Finland. Saint Lucia’s crowning lights up an otherwise dark winter. Every year a Saint Lucia is chosen to be the one to bring joy and light to the streets of Helsinki. She is perhaps best known for her crown, which has four large white candles.

We interviewed Ingrid Enkell, the 2020 Saint Lucia, who shared a message of kindness and positivity.

What does Saint Lucia represent to you?

Lucia and the Lucia tradition represent warmth, light and compassion. In the darkest of times in Finland, Lucia and her choir come with light and song to those who need it the most. It represents humanity, people coming together, celebration of life, compassion towards each and everyone you meet.

What did you enjoy most about your crowning?

The amount of love I received afterward. I am beyond thankful and still overwhelmed by the kind words and all the people who have reached out. Standing in that big church (almost) alone was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most beautiful. Knowing that I was there to spread kindness, light and warmth with my presence and song was a huge and wonderful honor. Also getting to walk out of the big church and wave to some of the people that had gathered outside was truly amazing, it touched my heart.

What message would you give to girls who wish to be Saint Lucia?

 Be Lucia. We all need Lucia in our lives. Not just on the 13th of December, but let’s all be Lucia every day of the year. Lucia is needed throughout the year, and the positivity, compassion and kindness that she resembles and spreads. No matter who you are or what you look like you can be Lucia. I hope that everyone who wants to be Lucia has the opportunity to be.

Do you think having a Saint Lucia celebration is still relevant today in Finland?  

 I absolutely think the Lucia celebration is relevant. It is not just a girl with a crown who walks down the stairs of the Helsinki Cathedral, it’s so much more. Each year thousands of people gather to see and meet Lucia. Those who are going through tough times receive light and warmth, and Lucia spreads the message of compassion everywhere she goes. The Lucia fundraiser helps people in difficult life situations and Lucia is the front figure of the fundraiser. I hope this tradition is something that will always be relevant in this country, it is one of the most beautiful things that happen in these darkest of times. I am beyond honored to be this year’s Lucia and I hope to spread all the love that I can.