Wednesday 31 January 2018

Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Christmas Stories"

Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" (Swedish: Kristuslegender) [Christmas Stories] - 1893-1917

I had never read a story by Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman ever to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature. And since she wrote some Christmas stories, I thought it was about time.

Of course, I had seen the animated series "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson" which was made after her book but other than that, I didn't know much about Selma Lagerlöf. Well, that has changed and I will certainly read a novel written by her, maybe "Gösta Berling".

As with other selections of stories, there are certainly collections of Selma Lagerlöf's Christmas stories available in English but probably none of them have exactly the same contents as this German collection I found. These are the stories in this particular one:

The Holy Night (Swedish: Den heliga natten, 1904)

The Lucia Day Legend (Swedish: Luciadagens legend, 1917)

The Legend of the Christmas Rose (Swedish: Legenden om julrosorna, 1908)

God's Peace (Swedish: Gudsfreden, 1898)

A Christmas Guest (Swedish: En julgäst, 1893)

You can even download some of them for free!

In any case, the stories were nice to read, especially around Christmas. They tell us a lot about the life in Sweden about a century ago and that is always worth looking at. Some of the stories are more like a fairy tale whereas others talk about the everyday folk and their lives.

From the back cover:

"When I was five years old I had such a great sorrow! I hardly know if I have had a greater since then. It was then that my grandmother died. Up to that time, she used to sit every day on the corner sofa in her room, and tell stories. I remember grandmother told story after story from morning till night, and we children sat beside her, quite still, and listened. It was a glorious life! No other children had such happy times as we did. It isn't much that I recollect about my grandmother. I remember that she had very beautiful snow-white hair, and stooped when she walked, and that she always sat and knitted a stocking. And I even remember that when she had finished a story, she used to lay her hand on my head and say: - All this is as true, as true as that I see you and you see me. - I also remember that she could sing songs, but this she did not do every day. One of the songs was about a knight and a sea-troll, and had this refrain: - It blows cold, cold weather at sea . ."

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909 "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.


  1. The first woman to win the Nobel! No wonder you wanted to read her. I lost my best grandma when I was nine. I am not sure I ever got over it.

    1. She has been on my list for quite a while, so when I found this little booklet, I just had to get it. I definitely want to read one of her novels, she has a lot to give.

      My first grandmother died when I was six and in hospital getting my appendix removed. I always liked her but she didn't live in our village and had more than twenty other grandchildren, so we were not that close. But I do remember it was hard.

      In any case, a worthy author.

  2. OMG, another classic author I had never heard of...

    1. There are so many, of course, we can't know them all. I'm just very interested in Nobel Prize winners because I found so many great authors among them.

      And she wrote "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson", probably the most known Scandinavian children's book next to Astrid Lindgren's Bullerby Children and Tove Jansson's Moomins.