Greeting the Christmas Dawn at Bishop Hill

Martha Downey
Greeting the Christmas Dawn at Bishop Hill
BISHOP HILL, IL – The Christmas tradition of “Julotta” survives at Bishop Hill State Historic Site, where people will gather for a nondenominational church service at 6 a.m. Christmas morning.

The public is welcome to attend the service at the restored Colony Church, built in 1848 by Swedish immigrants. Christmas morning in Sweden begins with the Julotta service, and since 1970 the service has been a tradition in Bishop Hill to reaffirm the community’s Swedish heritage.

The word Julotta comes from the Swedish words for “yule” and “before dawn.”
The worship service will be led by the Rev. Dan Wright of Greater Annawan Parish. The organist will be Ann Larson with special music by Courtney Stone.  The readers will be Terri Wigant, Bishop Hill and Elvin Salcinovic, Sweden.

Visitors are encouraged to dress warm. Coffee and rusks, a Swedish pastry similar to biscotti, will be available in the Colony Church Museum after the service.

The community of Bishop Hill, founded by Swedish pioneers in 1846, is located 20 miles south of I-80 and 17 miles east of I-74 in Henry County, Illinois. 

Many of the buildings are original, and many of the residents are descendants of the original settlers. The Colony Church is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  The Bishop Hill site will be closed December 25 (except for the Julotta service) and January 1.

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