Sunday, December 12, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Day 12 (St. Lucia Day)

St. Lucia Day
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
For the past several years, we've celebrated St. Lucia Day. I had not heard of St. Lucia Day until the girls began singing in the church choir. They learned a couple of songs that they sing each year at the service closest to St. Lucia Day (December 13th). This year, the Sunday closest to that was the 12th.

Unfortunately, this year the girls couldn't sing because of huge snowstorm. The driveway had drifts that went higher than the tires of the SUV. It wasn't until 4:30 in the afternoon that the driveway was plowed.

Despite not being able to sing, we celebrated in a small way at home by making Lucia buns and Swedish meatballs. The girls tried on the white dress and wreath of "candles" as well as the Starboy hat. It's fun to see each year how much the girls have grown and how the dress and hat compares to the previous year.

St. Lucia Day is generally associated with Sweden, but many other countries celebrate this day as well. In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each.

The cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars would typically be worn by boys in a traditional celebration. They would be called stjärngossar (star boys).

A traditional kind of bun, Lussekatt ("St. Lucia Bun"), is made with saffron and eaten on this day. A substitue to saffron (which we used) is cardamom and a few drops of yellow food coloring.

St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304 AD. The most common story told about St. Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.
The girls eating Swedish meatballs and Lucia buns on St. Lucia Day.

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