It’s the day for celebrating light in Sweden: the tradition of Lucia.
As the child of a Swede that was intent on preserving tradition, I always knew what would come the morning of the 13th.
In the midst of the pitch black of a winter morning, my mother would gently knock on my door, the sign that I was meant to get up. Propping it open, she would walk away, leaving only the melodic sounds of Lucia sången coming from the downstairs speakers. I would rub my eyes and sleepily crawl out of bed. Outside of my door, a white robe was carefully hung, a thick red sash draped on top.
This ritual was so expected, that even in a semi-conscious sleepy state I knew what to do. Put on the robe, tie the red sash around my waist and procede downstairs. Here, my mother would grace me with our Lucia crown — a green plastic crown with battery operated candles. Thats’ the easy route; traditionally live candles and lingonberry leaves are used. Fortunately my mother knew better and I managed to avoid wax dripping onto my head (I had the chance of discovering that later in life when live candles were deemed “age appropriate”).
Fully dressed in my traditional attire, my mother would give me a tray crammed full of pepparkakor and lussekatter (saffron buns) which I would take to my father. Nowadays, there’s no white robe or crown, but there are still lussekatter.
Lussekatter (also known as saffransbullar) are the classic pastry that signifies this day, a sweet bread made with saffron. They’re fairly easy to make, and if you put out a plate of them, brew some coffee, and play some classic Lucia music, it’s almost like you’re in the heart of Stockholm.
Full recipe and background on the tradition of Lucia here.