Sunday, December 13, 2015

St. Lucia Day

History doesn't make it clear how a young Sicilian woman born in the year 284 and martyred at the age of twenty for not renouncing her Christian faith could, in the late 1700's, become almost a patron saint in Sweden. But she did, and the tradition of St Lucia Day, on December 13th, is stronger than ever. 

Perhaps it was because "Lucia" means light, something the Swedes are lacking in the dark of December. I can relate. Perhaps it was because Lucia was known to help the poor and bring gifts of food to those imprisoned, and with her hands full, she strapped a torch to her head. Perhaps it was because the day of her death, December 13th, was also the Winter Solstice under the Julian Calendar. For these and other reasons unknown, Lucia is the bringer of light in the Swedish family.

The oldest daughter is the Lucia, wearing a crown of candles, and  along with her siblings, all dressed in white gowns, they knock on the bedroom door of their parents on the morning of Dec. 13th and enter bearing breakfast trays. Saffron laced Lucia buns are traditional. It is a national holiday and a day of family celebration.

 Saturday evening, as part of shopping and watching a lighted boat parade in Gig harbor, we also attended a little Lucia fest at the Harbor Museum. The kids were going to stay over night with us while Jill went to a party, but at the last minute she opted to come with us instead. The kids did not stay over, so this morning Tom went to fetch them while Jill caught up on some much needed sleep.

 We had a little Lucia breakfast, with lighted candles on the table, not on Irene's head. The buns were croissant, not saffron, but with raspberry jam, Irene thought they were wonderful.  Isaac loved the bacon. 

After breakfast we got to work making fatigmand. This is a traditional cardamom flavored cookie that I have made once in a while. The name translates to "poor man's cookie", but I prefer to think of them as "fat man's buckles" or Santa's buckles. 
 Once I showed her how, Irene quickly became expert at tucking the tails through the slits. 
 Issac was coaxed off his phone by the prospect of the hot vat of frying oil. 
 I rolled the dough and cut, and my crew did the rest.
 Fried and cooling, the first batch is done. 
 The final stage is to shake them in a paper bag with powdered sugar.  And there you have it, fatigmand!
Irene said they were OK on the taste test.  Isaac declared them delicious.  Yum.

We had the Seahawks on the TV, and at half time we helped the kids wrap the gifts for their mother that they had purchased on Wednesday, when we took them shopping at the mall. 

We've had some busy days around here, and more to come. 

We'll have to wait for December 22 for the real solstice, and the returning of the light, but today helped.

Happy Lucia Day. 


  1. An interesting story & a lovely family day. Very nice.

  2. I know about the holiday, but did not know the history behind it. This is so very interesting. What a fun time to spend with the grandchildren. I know they loved it too.

  3. A beautiful tradition that we used to do when the girls were all at home, as well as St Nicolas day on the 6th. Looks like a great family day filled with lots of treasured memories.

  4. As the oldest child, I guess it is a good thing that I did not grow up in a Swedish household. I surely would have tripped and knocked the candles off my head and set my parents' room on fire before it was said and done.
    I know that one of the local churches does a St. Lucia program that sounds interesting but I have never had the opportunity--never made the opportunity--to go.

  5. You told me about this day last year, I think, otherwise I'd never heard of it. Those cookies look good! :-)

  6. my youngest son was born on st. lucia day, appropriate as his father is Swedish! Looks like fun baking together...

  7. Isn't there a ST Lucia island in the Carribean? Now I'm going to have to look. Interesting story of St Lucia. I'd never heard of this. It's great to keep the kids involved. My Sister in law has one night a week for each grandchild. The 22 year old still comes and they bake cookies.

  8. Another Festival of Lights, explained and illustrated with love <3 Bacon and a deep fryer.... I can feel the boy joy from here!

  9. The cookies look really good. Look how neat your kitchen looks and with grandchildren baking cookies!It was never that way here. Seems like everything you all do turns out beautiful and perfect. I love it.

  10. I follow a blogger in Sweden and it is a beautiful festival there! It is good to teach the children about other traditions and your buckles look really good:)

  11. Sounds like you had a good time making the "fat man's buckles" with the grands. I liked to get a peek at your kitchen. As Henny Penny said, it sure looks neat considering you just made that dough.

  12. Interesting story and family tradition! The cookies look wonderful too!

  13. Nice family activity. I would like to have some of that cookie.

  14. Thanks for shedding some light on this special day. Looks like you did it up nicely.


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