Saint Lucia and saffron buns

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 2007 by iHanna, Copyright Hanna Andersson

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?

Fikatime is coffe time with friens in Sweden, by iHanna

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!

Light and darkness - photo by iHanna

Link: More information about Swedish traditions and Lucia – very interesting to read even for Swedes!

Have a great Lucia evening!

9 Responses

  1. There is a similar story about an Irish Saint, Brigid, who removed her eye to fend off a suitor. Her shrine was near to my home when I was a child and we used to visit it often.

    Hope you all had a wonderful time, those buns look scrumptious.

  2. We don’t have any of such traditions in Poland, I’m afraid. Maybe a “Little Santa Clauses” Day on Dec 6th, when we give each other very small presents left secretly in the shoe overnight (you have to be careful when putting your foot into a shoe in the morning! *^v^*). But I have no idea where this tradition came from.
    I love you candle-and-crystals arrangement, I wish I had some more flat surfaces to put candles on. *^v^*

  3. i also love traditions and would like to pass them to fiona. it would be great if she could remember them when she gets older.
    those buns look so yummy! thanks for all the links, hanna!
    i also wanted to tell you that i heard your craftypod podcast {late, i know} and i loved it! you have the sweetest voice.

  4. Hi Hanna,

    wow what a story, I had not known of St. Lucia before. Beautiful image of the little girl. Having lived most of my life in California and now living in a place that has snow, ice and coooold weather, I understand the need for some sunny cheerfulness in mid December. Swedish people have a very wise custom/tradition to create a reason to celebrate. Those buns look really yummy.

  5. This is so interesting. She looks so pretty in her St. Lucia clothes. Sadly, my family doesn’t really have much in the way of xmas traditions. However, in terms of food, one thing that we always have at my boyfriend’s parents at xmas is what we call “carnips”. This is carrots and turnip cooked and mashed together with butter and brown sugar. I have never liked turnip other than in this fashion. His family is British, and so they also have yorkshire pudding and roasted potatoes. Nothing as fascinating and unique as your Swedish customs :- (
    Take care :-)

  6. This little girl looks like she was plucked out of fairytale from very long ago! What a beautiful holiday photo!

  7. these are beautiful pictures! last night a swedish colleague invited us to christmas drinks. and a cute little swedish girl came dressed like on your photo and sang songs to us. and we had all these goodies and swedish cheese and more. didn’t bring my camera, so this is delightful to relive. wishing you a cheerful christmas season!

  8. Since my family is basically been here at earliest since 1633, no much of our “heritage” has survived. I so very much enjoy this sharing of traditions from other countries. While we have many traditions, like (usually me) reading the real story of Christmas, Jesus’ birth, from the Bible, followed by reciting (again, usually me :) The Night Before Christmas, until the children were old enough for one of them to do this, we didn’t do much besides open one present (*always* new pjs :) The other one I remember most was mama spending much of Christmas a.m. in the kitchen so we could all enjoy everyone’s company, while also enjoying a Christmas Big Brunch after opening presents. Now, my family enjoys cinnamon rolls, or maybe doughnuts, (depending on how far the “baker” (again, *me* :) got with her chores, followed by opening presents, and *then*… the big breakfast brunch. Those special traditions, which surely they brought over with them from Scotland/England/Wales, simply didn’t survive all those years down to us, so it is especially warm and rewarding for me to enjoy those of others, such as yours, so Thanks you, iHanna.

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