For over 1,000 years, the Swedish people have been
celebrating the festival of Santa Lucia on December 13th.
This celebration honors a martyred Sicilian saint whose name means "light."
Santa Lucia Day is also an old tradition in other
Scandinavian countries and in Germany and Italy. Today this winter celebration continues throughout
Europe and has migrated to North America as well.
Since the time and life of Saint Lucia, many legends
have grown up around her story.
Some say that she was tortured
and her eyes were put out before her death.
For this reason, Saint Lucia
is invoked as the patron of eye ailments.
She is also the patron saint of Sweden,
because her intercession saved the country from a famine.
In Sweden, on her feast day, the youngest girl of the
household makes a procession around the house,
with a head-dress of candles.
She serves her family sweet buns and coffee.
Often even hotel guests are awakened and served coffee cakes on this day by a white-robed girl. Many schools, offices, and communities
sponsor candlelight parades in the evenings or early morning hours in which carols are sung
and everyone thanks the Queen of Light for bringing
hope during the darkest time of the year.
The lighted crown and saffron color dough is also said
to symbolize that the sun will soon return.
A long time ago in Sicily, Italy,
Christians were not allowed to worship their
Italy was ruled by the Romans who wanted the Christians
to worship their Roman gods.
If someone was found worshipping the Christian God
they were punished and often tortured
to make them change their minds.
This meant that Christians often had to meet at night
or pray secretly in caves.
The caves were also home to Christians
who were hiding from the Romans.
They relied on other Christians to bring them food to eat.
Lucia was a Christian girl.
She felt sad for those who had to hide.
At night she would visit those Christians
and take them food so they would not go hungry.
The Christians were careful to hide
if anyone Should approached their hiding place. They didn't want any Romans to creep up on them and arrest them.
But they knew when Lucia was coming
as she wore a crown of candles on her head.
She used the lit candles to find her way through the darkness
and to keep her hands free to carry food for the Christians.
One night, the Romans found out what she was doing
and lay in wait to catch her.
They caught her and locked her up in prison.
They tried to make her believe in their gods
but her belief in her Christian God was so strong
that she refused to give in to them.
In the end, when she still refused to change her religion,
the Romans put her to death by beheading her.
Saint Lucia lived in Sicily about 300 A.D.
Her parents were Christians, even though many people
in the world at that time were still pagans,
who worshipped other gods.
The ruler of the country was a pagan
and he made it against the law to be Christian. But Lucia's parents loved Jesus very much,
and they taught Lucia about Christ.
She grew up loving Jesus
and wanting to give her whole life to Him.
When she was grown up, her mother wanted Lucia
to marry a rich young man, even though he wasn't a Christian.
Lucia didn't want to marry at all,
and prayed to God for some way to persuade her mother
that she didn't have to marry the rich young man.
Lucia's mother became ill,
and they both went on a pilgrimage to the tomb of
Saint Agatha to pray for healing.
When Lucia's mother was miraculously healed,
Lucia told her mother about how she had asked God for help
so that she wouldn't have to marry.
Lucia's mother changed her mind,
and told Lucia that she didn't have to marry. Lucia was very happy.
But the young man still wanted to marry Lucia, and he was very angry when she wouldn't marry him.
He wanted to punish Lucia, so he told the ruler of
the country that Lucia was a Christian.
This was true, but it was also against the law.
Soldiers came to take Lucia away
and sell her into slavery for being a Christian, but God protected her.
No matter how many men tried to lift her,
she could not be moved.
They were so angry and so afraid of her
and because they couldn't lift her,
that they tried to set her on fire.
But God protected her from the flames.
She told the soldiers that she was protected by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and that she wanted to serve God.
Finally they took her to prison, where it was very cold,
damp and uncomfortable.
She died in prison, after suffering torture.
Lucia was a very kind person and
there was a man who loved her very much
but she didn't care for him in the same way.
The thing the man loved most about Lucia was her eyes.
To satisfy hi desire she gave him her eyes
but a miracle happened and she grew back her eyes,
but this time they were even more beautiful than ever.
The man asked for those eyes,
but she refused to give them to him.
The man got angry and wanted to kill her
So he killed her with a knife through her heart.
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 F)
1 package Fleiscmann'S Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm milk (100 to 110 F)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Saffron Powder
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Powdered Sugar Frosting, optional (recipe follows)
Red and green candied cherry halves, optional
6 candles, optional
Place 1/4 cup warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast, stir until dissolved.
Stir in 2 eggs
and enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and
about 6 to 8 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover, let rise in warm, draft-free place
until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down.
Remove dough to lightly floured surface,
reserve 1/3 of dough for top of crown.
Divide remaining dough into 3 equal pieces,
roll each to 25-inch rope.
Place braid on greased baking sheet.
Form braid into circle, pinch ends together to seal.
To shape top of crown,
divide reserved dough into 3 equal pieces,
roll each to 16-inch rope.
Place braid on separate greased baking sheet. Form braid into circle, pinch ends together to seal.
Cover braids, let rise in warm, draft-free place
until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Lightly beat remaining egg, brush on braids.
Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or until done (small braid)
and 25 minutes or until done (large braid), covering large braid with foil during last 10 minutes
to prevent excess browning.
Remove braids from baking sheets, let cool on wire racks.
To decorate, make 6 holes for candles in small braid.
Place small braid on top of large braid.
If desired, drizzle with Powdered Sugar Frosting and garnish with candied cherry halves.
Insert candles in prepared holes.
Powdered Sugar Frosting:
In small bowl, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted,
4 to 5 teaspoons milk,
and 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract.
Stir until smooth.
1 tbsp saffron
2 cups milk
3 tbsp yeast (quick rise)
1 cup butter or margarine
1 egg (beaten)
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup chopped almonds
1 cup raisins (optional)
6-7 cups flour
1 beaten egg
Crush saffron and mix with a tbsp of sugar in a mortar.
Warm the milk (not too hot) and melt the butter in the milk.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the yeast and flour.
Mix the yeast in a separate bowl with a little of the
Add to mixture and mix well.
Add the rest of the flour a little at a time.
Knead and let rise in a warm place.
Once risen, punch down and knead again.
Roll the dough to whatever shape(s) you prefer.
Place on a cookie sheet, raise, brush with egg
and sprinkle with coarse sugar, almonds, and
Bake "small shapes" at 375-400°F for 5 to 8 minutes.
Bake "larger shapes" at 350-375°F for 13 to 17 minutes.
1 cup cornsyrup
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
1 cup of butter or margarine
1 ½ tbsp cloves
1 ½ tbsp ginger
4 - 5 cups flour
1 tbsp baking soda
Warm in a big pot on low heat:
syrup, sugar and butter until the butter melts, not longer.
Put it aside to cool.
Then mix in the eggs, spices, baking soda and flour
(keeping some flour aside for rolling out the dough).
Let the dough rest overnight at room temperature and cover with plastic or wax paper.
The next day:
roll the dough (quite thin)
and cut out the cookies using a cookie cutter.
Bake at 350-375°F for 6 minutes.
This recipe makes about 150 cookies.
If you should have any traditions, crafts, activities,
recipes, etc. you would like to share on this page,
please feel free to email me and tell me about them. E-mail