Today is Lucia Day, 13 December. The day when Lucia parades are held in workplaces, schools and institutions. Maybe you'll see your child go to the Lucia parade or maybe you'll go together to see it somewhere else, like the local centre or something similar. In many places it is a tradition to have a Lucia procession. You can often find it in libraries, the town hall, the church, the local centre and other public places. It will often be advertised in the local newspaper or online. It is also the day when Lucia bread is often eaten, a welcome tradition from Sweden. You can buy some to take home after work or make them with the children after they have been picked up from school. They are relatively easy to make, taste great and are so pretty. Here is the recipe for Lucia bread.
Table of contents
50 g yeast
150 g butter
5 dl milk
1 g saffron
0,5 tsp salt
1,5 dl sugar
15 dl flour
Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the milk into the butter and when the mixture is the temperature of your finger (about 37 degrees), pour it into the yeast bowl. Stir out the yeast. Stir in the saffron, lettuce, sugar and egg. Then stir in the flour and work the dough together. The longer you knead the dough, the easier it will be to shape the Lucia breads later. Leave the dough to rise for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 32 small pieces. Roll a long sausage from a piece of dough. Shape it into an S and put a raisin in each end of the ball. Let the buns rise for another 30 minutes. Beat an egg and brush them. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven at 250 degrees (not convection) for 5-10 minutes.
We celebrate Lucia Day on the day of her death. This day is celebrated as a festival of lights, with a Lucia procession. The Lucia procession first came to Denmark in 1944. Traditionally, the Lucia bride leads the Lucia procession with a crown of lights on her head. Today, several places have chosen to replace the candles with electric lights, as accidents have occurred over the years with the candles and the long girls' hair. As the procession continues, the song "Santa Lucia" is sung.
From Sweden we have taken the tradition of Luciabrød "lussekatter". They are very popular in Sweden and are made in many different varieties and shapes. The Luciabrød were baked with saffron, to keep the shady devil away in the dark time.
Who is Santa Lucia?
Santa Lucia is one of the few female saints mentioned in Church literature. In the Catholic Church, she is the guardian angel of the blind and people with eye diseases.
Santa Lucia is a Sicilian woman from the 300s who converted and became a Christian, also by being baptised. It was this that later caused her death. At the time, Sicily was part of the Roman Empire, where Christianity was forbidden. People were supposed to pay homage to the Emperor of Rome and make offerings to him, but the Christians refused to do so, as only gods were sacrificed to, and in Christianity there is only one god. The Christians therefore lived a secret life in which they were dependent on receiving help.
Santa Lucia was one of the people who helped. At night, she ventured outside, wearing a wreath around her head with candles inside. These candles would help her find her way to the catacombs where the Christians were hiding. It was a dangerous journey, for if she was discovered it would be with death as a consequence.
Lucia's parents had promised her away to a man, as was the custom of the time. The man was a non-Christian Roman, whom Lucia rejects - she will neither marry nor wed this man. She has by then dedicated her life to Christ and will live in chastity for the rest of her life. This was not well received by the Roman, who instead turns her in to the authorities. Lucia is found guilty of being a Christian. Her first punishment was to be sent to a brothel, but God protects her so that the men who were to take her away could not move her. She is then tortured and sentenced to death at the stake. Again God intervenes and miraculously she is not consumed by fire. Finally, the judge chooses to take his sword and plunge it into her. Santa Lucia dies on 13 December 304.