I was born in Linköping, Sweden and moved to Rochester, New York when I was eight years old. Growing up my parents continued Swedish Christmas Traditions, many of which I continue in my own family with my kids. One of my very favorite Swedish traditions is December 13th, St. Lucia Day.
The Swedish celebration begins very early on Lucia Day when the eldest daughter becomes “Lucia”. Dressed in white and wearing a crown of lingonberries, or myrten, with lighted candles, she sings the Lucia Song-an old Italian air known as “Santa Lucia”. She then serves her family freshly baked lussekatter (saffron buns), pepparkakor (ginger cookies) and steaming hot coffee.
This celebration is dear to my heart. It is not only celebrated in homes, but offices, schools, hospitals, churches and public places where Lucia, “Queen of Lights”, appears. Oftentimes Lucia is followed by a procession of young girls dressed in white also, wearing halos of tinsel and carrying a lighted candle. Boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. Some may be dressed in the same kind of white robe, but with a cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars, called stjärngossar (star boys).
Lussekatter (Lucia Buns)
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
- 1/4 c water, warm
- 3/4 c milk
- 1/2 c butter or margarine
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp powdered saffron
- 4 c flour
For brushing: 1 egg & 2 T water
Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Warm milk, add butter to melt. Place all above ingredients in a mixing bowl using 2 cups of the flour. Mix for 3 minutes using mixer. Add rest of flour and bet with wooden spoon. Work dough on board, adding a little flour for easy handling. When smooth and shiny put in a bowl and let rise to double in bulk. Turn out on floured board and shape into Lussekatter. Let rise on cookie sheet and brush with egg and water mixture before baking. Put a raisin in each curl and bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen rolls.