Lucia day in Scandinavia is on December 13th – a very special day in the Scandinavian calendar. Originally, St Lucia celebrated “the bearer of light” and the tradition today is still that a train of people dressed in white will walk in the dark bearing candles, singing Christmas carols.
A girl is elected to portray Lucia, wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of the children, each holding a candle.
When the Scandinavian countries were Catholic, the night of Lucia was celebrated just as many other saints’ days were. The tradition continued after the Protestant Reformation in the 1520s and 1530s. According to the Julian calendar, the night of Lucia was the longest night of the year. This is likely to be the reason why the tradition has lived on in the Nordic countries in particular, as the nights in November and December are very dark and long before the snow has fallen, and the idea of light overcoming darkness is thus appealing.
A saffron bun, or “lussekatt” (literally “Lucy cat”, after Saint Lucy), is a rich yeast dough bun that is flavoured with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg and contains currants. In Sweden and Norway, no cinnamon or nutmeg is used in the bun, and raisins are used instead of currants. The buns are baked into many traditional shapes, of which the simplest is a reversed S-shape. They are traditionally eaten during Advent, and especially on Saint Lucy’s Day, December 13. Here are our recipe.
3 dl milk
1 g saffron
2 tbsp dried yeast
150 g sugar
125 g butter
700 g white flour
- Melt butter or margarine in a pan and add the milk and the saffron.
- Warm the mixture to 37˚C
- Use a thermometer; the correct temperature is important!
- Pour the mixture over the finely divided yeast; then add the remaining ingredients (except for the egg and the raisins), which should have a temperature of 21-23˚C
- Mix into a smooth dough.
- Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes.
- Knead the dough, divide it into 25-30 pieces and form each piece into a round bun.
- Let the buns rest for a few minutes, covered by a piece of cloth.
- Form each bun into a string, 15-20 cm long, then arrange the string in a suitable shape, e.g. an S or double S. Regardless of the shape, the ends of the string should meet.
- Press a few raisins into the dough.
- Cover the”Lucia cats” with a piece of cloth and let them rise for 40 minutes.
- Whip the egg together with a few grains of salt, and paint the”Lucia cats” with the mixture.
- Bake them for 8-10 minutes in the oven at 250˚C ( until golden brownish yellow.
Nurseries, schools and churches celebrate this event by walking . The girls are all dressed up in white long dresses, and one of the girls are elected to be St Lucia with a crown of candles on her head. The boys are also wearing white dresses wearing a tall hat and ..