Fiber Fool

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Happy St. Lucia Day!

Filed under: In the Kitchen, Times Past — Kristi at 3:12 am on Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas StarSaint Lucia is a celebratory day in Scandinavia. Along with Advent, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. Despite it being a saint day it is observed by many, often with traditions that are more pagan in nature than Catholic or Orthodox. Today, it is always on December 13th, though it used to land on winter solstice each year prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

Raising SaffransbullarAlso known as St. Lucy day, it honors the martyr, St. Lucy of Syracuse who lived in Italy in the 4th Century. Little is known about her true history, though she is the center of many legends. One tells the tale of her eyes being gouged out for an admirer whom she did not love who felt her eyes were her greatest asset. They were said to later be restored by God. She is often represented in artwork as a woman with a dish bearing two eyeballs because of this legend. Another tale relates a similar story but the admirer tried to burn Lucia, but she prayed to God and he saved her from burning due to her kindness.

Sunrise 12/12/2006Lucy means light and that sums up the celebration in one word. It is a day of looking forward to the days growing longer and the nights shorter. Many of the customs also revolve around light and it is oftentimes referred to as the celebration of light.

Traditionally the eldest girl in a family wears a white gown and a crown of lit candles upon her head and carried a tray of coffee, Saint Lucia Buns (saffransbullar) and pepperkakor to her parents while leading a procession of any younger daughters in white carrying one lit candle each. They all sing a traditional song about the light Lucia used to overcome the darkness. Following the process it is common to sing more carols and songs about light and Lucia.

Saffransbullar Fresh From the Oven

Until the early 20th century this practice was one done in homes only. Then in 1927 Stockholm elected an official St. Lucia for the city and began the traditional of a public procession. It has spread and most cities, schools, and other municipalities elect a Lucia and there is even a national Lucia crowned each year. Boys are also incorporated into these processions in various ways today.

In honor of St. Lucia, I made the saffransbullar last night. The St. Lucia buns are also called Saffron Buns in English. They are made of slightly sweet yeast dough infused with saffron. The dough is rolled into snakes and formed into curly “S” shapes and topped off with an egg yolk wash and two raisins. I had a fleeting moment when I thought I would get up very early this morning and make them, but DH talked me into making them the night before. He had baking to do so they were really finished about 1am anyway. At the darkest hours of the night, just as they should be!

Saffransbullar Saffransbullar - Up Close

If you want to learn more about St. Lucia, check out these sites…
- St. Lucia Day at Wikipedia
- St. Lucy at Wikipedia
- Lucia Morning in Sweden
- Lucia at Scandinavica.com
- Lucyfest
- Saffransbullar and Pepperkakor at Sweden.se
- St. Lucia Day photos at Flickr

There is also some great information in Swedish Christmas in America and The Swedish Table as well as a whole menu in Scandinavian Feasts.

13 Comments »

Comment by Wendy

December 13, 2006 @ 5:38 am

Happy St. Lucia Day! Could you email me one of your saffron buns? I, of course, was far too lazy to make any. But I can almost taste ‘em from looking at your pix!

Comment by Carole

December 13, 2006 @ 5:42 am

Happy St. Lucia Day! Your St. Lucia buns look wonderful. I haven’t had them in years. When Hannah was younger she had a St. Lucia wreath and the dress, too. Now she’s “too old” for that stuff.

Comment by Chris

December 13, 2006 @ 8:08 am

Happy St Lucia’s Day! You have been busy busy busy baking.

Comment by Cindy

December 13, 2006 @ 9:12 am

Happy St. Lucia’s Day! Thank you for sharing the history. It’s fascinating. Being Scotch-Irish and English means I have absolutely no clue, so it was nice to find out about it.

Comment by lisa Co. Springs

December 13, 2006 @ 10:20 am

Thanks for sharing your traditions with us :) The goodies look fabulous.

Comment by hillary

December 13, 2006 @ 10:41 am

Thanks for sharing the St Lucia traditions with us. Those buns look fabulous and I really love that star in the window.

Comment by Sylvia

December 13, 2006 @ 11:26 am

My grandmother used to send me a big box of St. Lucia buns every year, and sometimes she makes two esses and arranges them with their centers crossed. Lovely memories, thank you. Do you have a good recipe for pepperkakor? I cannot find mine.

Comment by Stephanie

December 13, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

Thank you for sharing your traditions with me. Your buns look absolutely fabulous.

Comment by firefly8868

December 14, 2006 @ 6:48 am

Beautifully written blog, and the photographs are lovely too. I enjoyed learning about St. Lucia; I had heard of her and the day before but had no idea the history.

Your saffransbullar look completely wonderful and delicious.

Thanks for sharing this all with us!

~firefly

Comment by margene

December 14, 2006 @ 8:59 am

Yum, yum, yummy! What a beautiful post. The St. Lucia buns look fabulous and I would do anything to smell them baking (except make them myself);-)

Comment by Elise

December 14, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

Happy late lucia day! I love hearing about Lucia. I jsut wish I had people here to celebrate it with.

Comment by Monique

November 24, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

How do you pronounce Lucia in Swedish? We have been saying ‘Loo-sha’, but I’m thinking it might be ‘Loo-chee-a’. Thanks!

Pingback by Fiber Fool » Holiday Linkity

December 22, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

[…] It is finally starting to feel more like the holiday season. I don’t know if it was the batch of saffronsbullar I made up last week that flipped a switch or our increase in holiday movie watching. Whatever the cause, I’m glad the holiday spirit has hit! Due to this new holiday spirit much of my linkity will be gifting related. […]

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