Santa Lucia day December 13th , a day we observe in our family as it is a fun Scandinavian celebration, especially for children. My daughter loves it so much that today she will share it with her school. We are going to have a traditional Lucia parade (well, with only three people) and hand out saffron buns to her class.
Celebration in the US
I thought this holiday celebration was little known outside Scandinavia, but to my surprise, I got many replies on Facebook when i mentioned it. Mel at Yourwildchild, an organizer of an outdoor playgroup in Livingston, Montana is celebrating as well as Jessica in the Medford ,Minnesota outdoor playgroup. Jessica shared with me how she is celebrating Santa Lucia in Minnesota and is thinking of baking saffron buns as well.
“We did it with my daughter two years ago when I was trying to introduce her to things from different cultures”, said Jessica, “I was thinking of doing it tomorrow too with the saffron buns (they were pretty yummy!) and making a faux crown of candles & eating by candlelight and telling the kids the story of St. Lucia.”
A big part of this celebration is to bake your own saffron buns. It is a fun activity to do with kids.
Outdoor Lucia parade
Three years ago we organized an outdoor parade with our outdoor playgroup. The kids and adults dressed in white robes and garland. Holding battery powered candles we sang Santa Lucia in Swedish, German and Italian and handed out saffron buns to people coming out of the subway station. Though some of the evening commuters thought we were a bit strange, we were mostly met by smiles.
The celebration of Santa Lucia usually happens in the morning when children wear white robes and tinsel and hold candles in their hands and offer lussekatter (saffron buns) while singing Santa Lucia.
Lucia is a Sicilian saint who died in the 4th century. She was burned at the stake, but the flames didn’t touch her so she was stabbed in the heart and martyred.
The day dedicated to her is December 13th, which traditionally was thought to be the darkest day of the year in the middle ages. The celebration of Santa Lucia in the Scandinavian countries started in the 17th century at Värmland in Sweden, and was quickly adopted widely around Sweden, and thereafter the rest of Scandinavia.
Santa Lucia is the bringer of light into the darkness, and is a tradition well worth keeping. Scandinavian winters are long, dark and cold (like Canadian and some American winters), and Santa Lucia brings in hope, light and strength to go on though winter. She is celebrated in all Scandinavian countries.