Girls with flickering candle crowns and boys in white gowns means it’s Lucia in Sweden. I’d love to bring the celebrations from our home to your home today. Happy Lucia.
I feel a special honour in posting on Lucia Day, which is Day 13, in our 25 Creative Days Calendar. Meeting you on this day inspired me to create, not just just one project, but, two essential Lucia handmade projects: Saffran Buns called Lussekatt and Lucia Centerpiece Crowns called Luciakronor.
Hop down with my family and join us to make these traditional saffron-infused baked goods and learn how you, too, can make your own Lucia Crown to be used as a center-piece.
Every year, friends and family from abroad, ask curiously about the live candle crown, dresses for boys and the white hat and why? The short answer is that the Swedish holiday of Lucia is a festival of light, celebrated on what was, at one time, considered to be the shortest day of the year.
Lucia Buns (Lussekatt) are the essential baked good for this holiday. In many homes, small children still dress up in the traditional Lucia costumes and wake their parents in bed with their candle light and these buns. Well, OK… with the help of a parent, I’d guess; but, in earlier generations the tradition was for the kids to stay up all night baking these buns themselves, putting on their costumes at 5 AM and then walking in a “Lucia Processional” (Lucia Tåg), singing and carrying these buns, to wake up their parents up in bed.
The tradition of the all night baking was called Lussevaka which translates: “Lucia awake.” I was recently thrilled to meet a mother who shared that in the little town that she grew up, she did this and more: After the night of baking and waking their own parents, the kids would continue is their “Lucia Train” in to the neighbours, doing the same! She said that not only did the kids get to stay up all night baking, wearing their costumes but that everyone in the community wore their best pyjamas that night, too! It’s such a fun image to have for this very dark time of the year. Festivity is welcome!
Tack lillepostkort for the above cards by artists: Elsa Beskow, Carl Larsson, Aina Stenberg + Erkers Marie Persson.
- Lusskatt (2 variations: Metric or US Measurement)
Preheat Oven to: 250°C (475° F)
Variation 1: Metric Measurements
Lussekatt Recipe (Swedish Lucia buns)
50 grams fresh yeast
200 grams butter
1 gram saffron
3 dl milk (300 ml*)
2 dl heavy cream (200 ml)
2 dl sugar (200 ml)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
16 dl flour (1.6 liters)
US Standard Measurements:
1 egg, lightly beaten
(* 1 dl = 100 ml)
Variation 2: US Measurement
Lussekatt Recipe (Swedish Lucia buns)
1.7 oz fresh yeast
7 oz butter
.03 oz saffron
1 1/2 C milk (300 ml*)
3/4 C + 2T heavy cream
3/4 C + 2T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
6 3/4 C flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
- Crumble the yeast into a bowl. Melt the butter, add saffron, milk and cream and heat until about room temperature. Add some of the liquid to the yeast and let this dissolve; gentle stir. When this has been incorporated, add the rest of the liquid.
- Add the egg, sugar and salt and stir until dissovled. Add most of the flour but keep a tad bit of this on reserve for later and work into a smooth dough. It should still be a little bit sticky. Place dough in a bowl in a warm place, covered, and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes. You can see when the dough is ready as it will have doubled in size.
- It’s now time to make the buns. Use the remaining flour to dust your work surface. Divide the dough into equals portions and shape each bun like an “S”. Put them on parchment paper. Leave some space between them as they will rise even more. Look a little further down to see a few of the other, less commonly made, but traditional shapes, too.
- Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 30-45 minutes. Put two raisins on the spiral of each bun and brush with a beaten egg.
- Bake in the middle of the oven at 250°C (475° F) for approximately 7-9 minutes, depending on their size.
- Let cool. Enjoy! Freeze leftovers immediately. They will become dry very fast but freeze well.
Happy Lucia Making!
Next is the Lucia Crown. We can buy a battery-operated, candle light version in almost every market here in Sweden. Those crowns are the most commonly used at home but, the live candle versions are used in concerts and in school Lucia Concerts.
I do love to make a Lucia Crown, as a centrepiece, though and if you join me below, this is how you, you can make one, too!
- Make a Lucia Crown
Wire Cutters and scissors
4 Candles (We used the smaller, 13 cm x 5 cm candles | approximately 5 inches x 1 1/2 inches)
– Start by estimating the size you would like the crown to be.
– Add approximately 15 cm | 6 inches| of additional wire length to this.
– Thinking in quadrants, start wrapping the wire around the candle about 1/4 of the way in.
– Wrap the wire around the candle approximately 6 times and move to the next stop, 1/4 further.
– Repeat this step for all 4 candles by wrapping the candle approximately 6 times and continue in this way all the way around the crown.
– When finished, there will be 4 candle places.
-Twist the ends of the wires together.
– Begin attaching the branches with wire to the circular form that you’ve created, placing one bough at a time to the wire and wrapping it with wire to attach.
– Once the wire has been evenly covered with the pine boughs, build up the layers by amping up the branches around the candle holder areas.
– This extra bulk from the branches is very important because it will stabalize the candle later.
– Continue attaching boughs, evenly, around the centrepiece until a full, crown, has been created.
– Place the candles into the holders and your Lucia Centerpiece is complete.
– When using these crowns and lighting, always keep them attended.
I’ll close this post by adding that if you’re visiting Sweden on December 13, go to a Lucia Concert. These start a 6 or 7 AM but, are worth the heavy effort of rising too early! I promise that these concerts, which slowly bring the room alive with song and light will stick with you for a lifetime. (Storkyrka in Old Town + Adolf Fredrickskola put on annual classics)
Most preschools, schools and choirs perform their own Lucia conferts and I’ll leave with a few scenes from our son and daughter’s Lucia concerts. This year our daughter’s class gave their first concert on Thursday and continued the next day with 5 more! Since today is the official day of Lucia, schools celebrated yesterday and around town, I spotted little Lucia’s and Star Boys all over the city.
Our daughter’s has the chance to be both the Lucia, who leads the processional of maidens and boys into a dimly lit room, singing Lucia (which I should add has beautifully written Christmas lyrics but, is sung to the familiar tune,) and a maiden. While I loved the photo opportunity that her Lucia costume brought, but, she’s a song bird who could sing from the moment she wakes until she goes to bed, and much preferred the chance to sing in the choir! Lucia, stands, silent and dignified for the entire concert with her hands serenely folded in front of her.
Day 12: Did you make Linda’s adorable paper Santas yesterday? Tomorrow, Day 14, continue with us in our online 25 Creative Day in December calendar with us agin! Come follow The Creative Collective on Facebook so you don’t miss a thing!
I’d love to meet you on Instagram where I post regularly or come find us on Facebook and like us. There I share many other creative ideas and resources from around the web. For more projects like this, come visit our Pinterest Page.
Come join us. Sign up below, with your email address, to never miss a post.
something you might like:
25 Creative Days Calendar in Sweden — (Full Calendar)
Something you might like:
Ginger Bread Houses with Ice Cream Sandwiches
Make Lucia Crowns and Lussekatt
Snowflake Lion (not pictured)
You might also like:
30 + Leaf + Foliage Projects from willowday
52 Handmade Willowday Projects from 2014
(Come join us for the year in review)
I love this chance to meet. Come visit our Facebook willowday Page and like us. For more projects like this, come visit our Pinterest Page. Or join me for Instagram for daily posts, too.
Would you like to add simple, everyday, creativity to your family — or travel with us to Sweden — just sign up here and never miss a post.