Friday, December 12, 2008

Santa Lucia Day approaches, fetch your saffron powder

Tomorrow, December 13th, is Saint Lucy Day - Santa Lucia Day in Sweden, where the patron saint of light is lauded in song as she reminds the Swedes that the sun will soon be returning to their snowy land. Tradition says the oldest girl in the family dresses in white and puts a crown of candles on her head while serving saffron buns to her family. The traditional Santa Lucia hymn was one of the few songs I learned to play really well on a zither growing up, so even though I'm not Swedish I get a little verklempt when I hear the song.

December 13th is also the day we celebrate the birthday of our little Lucy, whose actual birthday is December 25th. (NOT MY FAULT! SHE WAS EARLY!) With her Swedish godmother and the convenient name tie-in, we adopted Dec. 13th as the big celebration day early on and continue to observe it today.

The main thing is the baking and consuming of the Santa Lucia Crown, so I'm including a link to my time-tested recipe here. Since they were tiny the girls like braiding the crown, and the bright yellow color and the icing drizzle combine for a treat that's not too sweet. This year we have saffron powder from Spain, a tiny jar that's got a big kick (and a big price tag) so it should be extra good.

Last year, of course, the dog jumped up on the counter and ate our afternoon's work, but that was before he'd trained us to put all food away if we were leaving the kitchen. In honor of Lucy and light and athletic dogs, here's an impossibly delicate rendition of Santa Lucia in Swedish.

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