Well, it is that time of the year when it is all celebrations around. Time to celebrate light and warmth while forgetting the cold and darkness of the time. Last week, on December 13, Sweden celebrated St. Lucia’s Day on the winter solstice. Although not an official holiday in Sweden, it is still an occasion that is celebrated across the country.
Legends say that this day is celebrated in the memory of Saint Lucia, a Sicilian saint believed to have been killed for her Christian faith. The name Lucia means “light”. It is said that when the Romans tried to kill her by lighting her up, the fire didn’t kill her. Another story says that Lucia would secretly bring food to prosecuted Christians who were living in hidings. To use her hands to carry more supplies instead of holding the candle, Lucia would wear a wreath on her head with candles attached to it.
In Sweden, and across the Nordics, ceremonies are held everywhere to celebrate Lucia. A girl is chosen to portray Lucia. She wears a red sash and a wreath of candles on her head. She leads a procession of boys and girls dressed in white, holding candles. They sing the famous “Sankta Lucia” song throughout the procession, a melodious and visual treat! Did you know that Swedes even elect their national Lucia? The video above gives a quick intro to the Lucia tradition and the video below is the Lucia procession held at KTH library.
This season is generally celebrated with Lussebullar or Lussekatter (Saffron buns) ,Pepparkakor (ginger biscuits) and Glögg (mulled wine, there is a non-alcohol version too). The oldest daughter in the home is often the Lucia. She brings lussebullar and pepparkakor to her parents, dressed in white, wearing the candle wreath, singing the Lucia song while her siblings might line up in the procession. A beautiful tradition indeed!
Being the eldest daughter in my family, I guess I have all the reason to bake some Lussebullar this season 😉 Although my parents live in India, they were so happy with me trying to have fun on Lucia day.
So, here is how I baked my Lussebullar, it wasn’t an expensive thing to do and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I followed the recipe online but tweaked it a bit to my taste. I added raisins to the dough and doubled the butter to make it softer.
It is an amazing feeling to be able to accept and appreciate the cultures across the globe. My saffron buns turned out to be very tasty and the time was well spent while this is something I’ll cherish forever. Being in an international environment really does open our minds to think and act broader. I am planning to bake ginger biscuits for Christmas. I’ll definitely keep you all posted about that!
See you soon!