by Travis Thomason, student writer
|More than 300 guests turned out to
take part in the holiday spirit and donate toys to Shiners’ Hospital
for Children on behalf of the Swedish Student Association.
After a welcome by SSA President Christian Clemente, the night
began with a greeting from HPU President Chatt G. Wright, who
announced that Swedish students are now the highest international
population at Hawai‘i Pacific University.
Shiners’ Hospital Administrator Tom Schnyder accepted the
gift on behalf of the hospital. Thanking the group, he said that
the hospital’s care of children “never has been,
nor ever will be possible without this generous support.”
The presentation was followed by the Swedish smorgasbord, a buffet
featuring a variety of cold dishes including meat, fish, salads,
After dinner, the sweet smell of cinnamon rice pudding filled
the air, the lights dimmed, and the crowd took their seats to
enjoy the tradition of the Lucia Train, a procession of student
carolers with glowing candles singing traditional carols. Lucia
celebration has been a tradition in Sweden for centuries. In
Sweden Lucia Day, Dec. 13, is the darkest day of the year, and
Lucia is believed to bring hope for moving toward brighter days.
The eldest daughter in Swedish families traditionally performs
the Lucia Train on Christmas Day, bringing candles to the bed
of her sleeping parents to help brighten the long winter night.
I didn’t have to fly on a plane for 24 hours to experience
an amazing Swedish tradition,” said former Director of
Student Life Heather Hubbard. “The SSA takes such pride
in the support it receives from President Wright; it’s
beautiful to see it all come together for the HPU family.”
Rita Kristjansdottir, incoming president of the Swedish Student
Association, said: “I would love for Swedish students to
really keep their culture alive and totally embrace the culture
of Hawai‘i. It’s beautiful,” she added.
Shiners’ Hospital for Children was established in 1923
and provides free orthopedic care to children under the age of
Scandinavian Christmas at HPU can be traced back 12 years, when
it was first celebrated in the home of Bob and Ulla Popp. Bob
Popp, an instructor of political science teaching in the Military
Campus Program, was the club’s advisor at the time, and
the event soon outgrew his residence. It has continued to grow,
each year surpassing the year before.