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Christmas Traditions Lucia nights and others at Bishop Hill, IL; an American Illinois Historical site

Updated on November 13, 2014
Little Straw Animals, Stockholm Sweden
Little Straw Animals, Stockholm Sweden | Source
Tomte(gnome) | Source

When we lived in Viola, Illinois it was a fairly comfortable ride to the village of Bishop Hill It is not just a town but also an historic site and the home of the Bishop Hill State Historic Site, operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation society. We found it fun to go there durmg the Christmas season when they had various events, unusual gifts to buy and interesting crafts.

Immigrants from Sweden who were led by Eric Jansson settled the village in 1836. He was a religious leader who preached against the Lutheran church in Sweden. He had to leave Sweden and with his followers set up a “Utopian” community at Bishop Hill.

There are still some descendants of the early immigrants there. The town is now preserved with many buildings that were used. There are several restaurants, shops that sell largely Scandinavian imports and the old church, hotel workshops as well.

Julbock (Uppland)
Julbock (Uppland) | Source


This year: 2010, the Bishop Hill event calendar shows that the Julmarknad Christmas Market November 26 to November 28 10 a.m. to 5p.m. and December 4 to December 5

We used to go to one of the Christmas Markets, called Julmarknad. Usually there are quite a few people so it gets a bit crowded at times in shops that were not designed to accommodate so many, but usually folks are cheerful. The weather that time of year is cold and there is the possibility of snow, which adds to the atmosphere.  Along with the Holiday music the market is livened up with revelers dressed as folk characters such as

Tomtes and Julbock.


A Tome is a gnome like creature that lives under housed and barns. It is belived to protect the farmers home and family from misfortune.

A Julbock is represented often as a woven straw figure. Swedish ornaments are often made of straw.

St. Lucia's Day Procession in Sweden 2007
St. Lucia's Day Procession in Sweden 2007 | Source

November 26 and 27 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Homemade Holiday Cookies baked by Bishop Hill community bakers

December 4 to December 5 Chocolate walk

Select homemade chocolate delicacies at the steeple building.

December 4 Santa visits Bishop Hill

Santa will be at the Prairies arts Center, 203 Bishop Hill Street. This is a free family event but donations will be accepted for the Bishop Hill F fill the boot for MDA.A professional photographer will offer reso9nably priced photo packets. Fire Department.

December 10-11 Lucia Nights

Festivals of Lights “Lucias” serve coffee and sweets in the museums and shops. Special musical various locations including the Peoria Cooperative Academy Chorale

Nearly every establishment offers hospitality with Lucias serving cookies and beverages.

St. Lucia is a Swedish saint and St. Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden on December 13. During the dark of winter. She was a martyr and portrays the “bringer of light” at festivals everywhere in Europe and in Bishop Hill, Illinois. A reminder of the ancient battle between Dark and Light; Cold and Warmth. The oldest daughter of the family, according to Swedish tradition, gets up before dawn during Christmas season, brings coffee and sweet saffron buns to everyone in the household. She dresses in a white gown with a red sash and a crown of lighted candles on her head. “Shop Lucia’s” at Bishop Hill serve visitors with sweet treats and coffee on Lucia Nights.

December 18 to December 19 Colony Store Appreciation Days

Refreshments, surprises, and door prizes plus a 10% discount on all purchases. Heritage members get a 20% discount.

            December 25 6 am Jolotta


This is a candlelight non-denominational service in the Colony Church. Service is conducted in both English and Swedish. Coffee and rusks served after the service.


If you have never attended thee activities are a Christmas traditon that will help you understand the culture that settled there fro Sweden


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      it has been a number of years since we have been there.My wife always wanted to go there for the Lucia nights.It is an interesting historical place.Glad you found the hub and enjoyed it. Merry Christmas.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I have lived in Illinois and I wished I had went there then. this place sounds awesome. I know this is a year old. I am new to the HUB.. Great HUB

      Merry christmas

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. We always enjoyed Bishop Hill for Christmas and other events.The historic buildings are interesting to see as well.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      dahoglund, it sounds like a wonderful spot to spent a Christmas Holiday. Thanks for sharing.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am not familiar with them. My dad's family were not real close so we did not visit them much. I vaguely recall Sedish pancakes from somewhere. as I recall they were quite light.Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We used to know a gal that came from Sweden and she used to serve round pancakes called ebelskivers. Did you ever get to eat any of those?

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. It is an enjoyable Christmas activity.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      I enjoyed reading your article. Sounds like a nice place to visit for Christmas.

    • profile image 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • daydreamer13 profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds great!! Thanks for sharing!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for reading it and for commenting. This is one of my favorite place

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...I feel the spirit of Christmas here. I thought we never forget the old memories and about Christmas tradition in the past. But I really enjoy read your description about Christmas traditional celebration. I found great festival during the Christmas celebration. Thanks for showing me about this. Rating up. God bless you.


    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Since this is no longer a religious colony I don't believe so.Like so many groups like these Lutherans that came here they gradually faded away when their leader died.They do have other events but not Christmas related.Thanks for commenting.

    • FCEtier profile image


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Enjoyed your article! Do the celebrations and events continue through Epiphany and into Mardis Gras?

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading and commenting. If you are in that area it would probably worthwhile to visit it.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      8 years ago from Houston, TX

      Sound like a great tradition. I would love to visit this historical event. Thanks for sharing a wonderful hub.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      They have other events as well. Rose always wanted to got there at Christmastime. I liked it but It was often cold which bothers me more than her. Thanks for commenting and voting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Sounds like Bishop Hill would be a fun place to visit around Christmas-time. Glad that we got to hear about it because of your having visited there. Thanks! This gets a useful rating.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      We always enjoyed our visits there. Thanks for commenting.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund, for a fantastic hub, sounds like an occasion to remember. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It is a place to see at least once if you are in the area.Thanks for commenting.

    • eovery profile image


      8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Sounds like a very fun place to visit.

      Keep on hubbing!


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