Santa Lucia

Musing on the recurrent infinities that showed up in the equations of quantum electrodynamics (QED) confounding and frustrating physicists, Ingrid compares the situation to a bleak Scandinavian December. 

"When the days shrivel up, in preparation for the winter solstice, in every town across Sweden, processions of little girls, following in Saint Lucia’s wake, light up the dark. With voices sweetly harmonizing, the girls sing of brooding shadows and of Night who walks with her hushed, heavy feet, until Saint Lucia appears to dispel the gloom. Clad in white, a wreath of candles in her hair, Lucia whispers of the rosy dawn to come. Fortified by this vision, and aided by glögg, gingerbread cookies, and raisin saffron buns, we get by until the nights grow shorter and the gorgeous sun has his day."

QED was not rescued quite this poetically, but hope did come, in the guise of renormalization, and we were able to extract sensible answers from our crazy calculations.

I find the festival of Lucia (celebrated on December 13) to be one of the prettiest Swedish customs. I particularly love this song that is sung each year, as Lucia walks in, surrounded by a halo of light.