54 HOURS : How Swede It Is

Christmas is celebrated over a period of several weeks in Sweden, but the Swedish Women's Educational Assn., with the help of some Swedish-born celebrities, has chosen Sunday to share some homeland traditions at the Swedish Christmas Fair.

Actress Ann-Margret, who came from Sweden to the United States as a little girl, will crown the Santa Lucia at noon. Santa Lucia is the "saint of lights," a saint "borrowed from Italy," says Agneta Nilsson. "Dec. 13 is the darkest day in Northern Europe. The theory is that [the Santa Lucia] brings light to our dark country. Everyone dresses in white--it's a fabulous day."

Nilsson, who believes Christmas traditions in Sweden surpass those of other countries, was named Swede of the Year by King Carl Gustaf XVI, an honor given to a Swede who "does something culturally for the home country," Nilsson says. She is the founder of the Swedish women's group, which presents the annual Christmas fair in Los Angeles.

Many of the Swedish traditions will be represented at the fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. "See what kind of music Swedes listen to, what kind of food they eat, the beautiful ornaments," Nilsson says. She adds that Ann-Margret will certainly be among the shoppers because of her deep ties to the country. "Like all of us, she's very tradition bound," Nilsson says. "If you're born a Swede you're always a Swede."

Other celebrities scheduled to appear include Maud Adams, Bo Svenson, Bo Brundin and Signe Hasso.

Festivities include folk dancing, music, handmade crafts and children's activities. Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. $3; children 11 and younger, $1; parking, $5. Information: (310) 833-3030.

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