The 13th of December marks Saint Lucia Day, a festival of light and hope in Scandinavian countries. Coinciding with the winter solstice, Saint Lucia Day honors Saint Lucy, who brought food and aid to Christians hiding in catacombs from persecution by the Roman empire. Seeing as I have Scandinavian ancestors and Swedish friends, I’ve always wanted to throw a Saint Lucia Day party. I’ve put together some adorable crafts and delicious recipes that kids are sure to love! Besides getting everyone in the Christmas spirit, a Saint Lucia Day party is also the perfect opportunity to teach kids about a different culture. Trevlig Helg (Happy Holidays) everyone!
Saint Lucia Crowns & Star Boy Hats
The girls chosen to represent Lucy in the numerous Saint Lucia Day processions wear white dresses, red sashes, and wreaths of holly or lingonberries adorned with candles. They are usually followed by a procession of other young women wearing white dresses who carry candles, but only Lucy gets to wear a wreath of leaves and candles. You can make your own Saint Lucia wreaths using card stock. Download the template above for instructions.
Boys also participate in the Saint Lucia processions, dressing up as star boys, Santas, or even gingerbread men. Star boys, or stjärngossar, wear white robes and cone-shaped hats decorated with stars. The history of star boys is drawn from the story of Saint Stefanos, or Stephen, who worked in King Herod’s stables. Seeing the Star of Bethlehem, he ran to tell the king that the King of the Jews had been born. You can also make your own star boy hats using card stock. Download the template above for instructions.
Woven Heart Ornaments
Most of us have probably made woven paper hearts at home or school at one time or another. Did you know the oldest known woven Christmas heart was actually made by Hans Christian Andersen in 1860? Traditionally made in Denmark and northern Germany, woven heart baskets were often stuffed with sweets or nuts and given as gifts. Today julehjerter, or Yule hearts, are more commonly made as ornaments. Red and white are very traditional Christmas colors in Scandinavian countries, but feel free to experiment with your own color combinations. Download the template above for instructions.
Dala Horse Ornaments
Dala horses are colorful wooden horses first created in Sweden. Woodcarvers originally created them as toys for children. The first dala horses weren’t painted at all. It wasn’t until later that they were painted with bright colors. The classic dala horse is bright red with a harness of white, green, yellow and blue. Today the dala horse has become a symbol of Swedish culture. Your can make your own felt dala horse ornament with a few simple materials. Unless your kids are handy with a needle and thread, I recommend sewing them yourself beforehand so they’re ready to decorate. Kids will absolutely love getting to decorate their own ornament with fabric paint. Download the template above for instructions. For those new to sewing, check out this tutorial on how to sew a blanket stitch.
Lussebullar & Glögg
A Saint Lucia celebration isn’t complete without a tray of warm lussebullar, or Lucia buns. These soft, sweet rolls are infused with saffron, which gives the bread it’s golden yellow color. They have a delicate, almost honey-like sweetness that pairs perfectly with a hot drink. The girls chosen to be Saint Lucy often carry a tray of lussebullar and coffee to share with family and friends.
Another popular holiday treat in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries is glögg, a sweet and spicy mulled wine. But you don’t need alcohol to make a delicious glögg. Using a combination of different fruit juices and spices, you can create a warm, delicious drink that will drive away even the worst winter chills. I can’t describe how amazing your kitchen will smell while this is simmering away. It’s like pure Christmas magic!
- 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- 1 tsp + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 oz active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg well beaten
In a small saucepan, heat the milk, saffron, and teaspoon of sugar over medium heat until the milk starts to steam.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the milk to cool to 105-115°F (warm but not hot). Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture, 2 eggs, melted butter, and sour cream. Mix the ingredients together until well incorporated.
If using stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. Add a tablespoon of flour and start kneading the dough. Continue to add flour a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate each addition, until the dough is slightly stick to touch but doesn't stick to your hands when you handle it.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large glass bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Gently press down the raised dough and lightly knead it a few times. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the dough into 12 equal sections. Roll a section of dough into a ball. Roll the ball out into a strip of dough about 14-inches long. Curl the ends of the dough in opposite directions, like an "S" with spirals on both ends. Place the dough on the lined baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining sections of dough.
Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush the tops and sides of the uncooked buns with the beaten egg. Place a raisin in the center of the spirals on both ends of the buns.
Bake the buns for 10-11 minutes, or until golden brown.
You can bake the lussebullar the day before and reheat when needed. Preheat the oven to 170°F. Place the buns on a baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until buns are warm.
- 3 cups apple juice
- 2 cups cherry juice
- 2 cups grape juice
- 1 orange thinly sliced
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 1 small clementine
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 1-2 whole allspice berries
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Stick the cloves into the sides of the clementine.
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Strain the glögg through a sieve into a punch bowl or pitcher. Discard the leftover citrus slices and spices.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
You can make the glögg the day before and reheat it when needed. Simply pour the glögg back into a saucepan and and cook it over medium-low heat until hot.
Feel free to use different juices. Try pineapple, cranberry, blackcurrant, or even white grape juice! The same goes with the spices. Try star anise, ginger, or even nutmeg!
What are some of your holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments below! Share this post with your friends and you’ll be guaranteed a spot on Santa’s Nice List!