|Santa Lucia – Photograph by Enzo Nocera 1970 – © Laudie Nocera|
In Scandinavia, Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated most wonderfully.
At the dawn, processions of girls singing Christmas songs, dressed in a white robe, with a crown of candles on the head and a lighted one in their hand, do light up the dark winter night. A little girl who plays Lucia lead the procession, followed by bridesmaids and pageboys and closed by children dressed as elves. It's a lovely scene I hope to see for real one day. This tradition of the eighteenth century is repeated in churches, schools, hospitals and workplaces across the country and would not be Christmas in Sweden without Lucia, marking the transition to the last two weeks of Advent.
Lucia and her bridesmaids give lusserkatter and ginger biscuits to the audience. Have you ever tried lusserkatter? They're sweet saffron bread buns traditionally baked for this occasion. I wish I had time to prepare some this year, they're delicious. For the ones like me who did not make it to Sweden this year, we can try it at home. I share here the recipe (plus a step-by-step tutorial) for the ones willing to bake a few.
On the 13th of December, Santa Lucia is celebrated in some cities of northern Italy too. By tradition here, children write a letter to Santa, declaring they have been good and obedient during the year therefore listing gifts they would like to receive as reward. They prepare a bowl of milk for Lucia's donkey, and some chocolate, biscuit or tangerine to thank her. The morning after they'll find mysteriously no more food where they left it and a small present to play with.
I found some St. Lucy paper dolls, aren't they cute? Here you find a pdf to make one of them.
Let's have a lovely Santa Lucia night.