The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
Lucia is celebrated in Sweden on December 13th every year. Lucia is presented as a woman (or a girl) with long hair in a white plain dress that looks like a night gown. She walks around with her maids (and gingerbread and star boys), candles in her hair, singing Christmas songs and offering the traditional saffron buns that I posted images of yesterday because we did a little false starting on the buns! Who could resist?
The origin of this tradition is forgotten and mixed with all kinds of diverse believes. The origin of Lucia is how ever the story about Saint Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304.
I was very fascinated with her story when I was younger, specially the one that originates from the Middle Ages where she stabbed her own eyes out as a response to a suitor who admired her beautiful eyes; “she cut them out and sent them to him, asking to be left in peace thereafter.” She wanted to live as a nun. I’ve even written a story about this event, but I don’t know where it is now.
Anyway, just like the traditions about Christmas many of us have forgotten why we celebrate this day and why the traditions are like they are. In Sweden I think it’s important to always remember to celebrate the light in the darkness of the winter (lux means light). Halfway through December maybe we need the carrier of light and joy to come visit us in the dark morning?
I posted a lot of bun images yesterday, of the traditional saffron buns. You can get the recipe here: Saint Lucia buns!
After Swedish cinnamon rolls these are my favorite – maybe even more so because these buns are season bound and not eaten during the rest of the year (except for December)? That makes them extra desirable, wonderful and something to long for. I love a cold glass of milk and one (or three!) of these saffron buns on a plate together with some gingerbread biscuits! Yummy!
Or if you don’t want it with milk, warm some glögg (mulled wine) with raisin and almond in the cup… That’s what we’re having tonight. Very Swedish all of this, hope you can share some of our tradition, let me know about your own – and don’t forget to light a candle for St Lucia (he patron saint of the blind) too! Plus please enjoy the free downloadable labels I posted below – great for Christmas presents!
Have a great Lucia evening!