Sunday, December 12, 2010

An early morning surprise -- St. Lucia's Day

My Ebay find: an adorable St. Lucia doll
Tomorrow is St. Lucia's Day, a favorite Advent holiday in many Scandinavian countries. Lucia lived in Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, in the 3rd century. She died at age 20 because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Her name, which derives from the word Lux, means light, so this feast day is especially appreciated during the cold, dark days of December.

In Sweden, a young girl in each family dresses in a white robe with a red sash and wears a candle-lit crown on her head. She awakens her family members in the morning with a call to "share breakfast with me," then serves them special sweet buns and coffee.

Although my family isn't Scandinavian, I grew up in Minnesota, a state where almost everyone considers themselves at least partially Scandinavian!  In any case, my daughter looks forward to dressing up and serving the family every year.  I purchased a crown a few years ago from Hemslojd, a Scandinavian online store. It uses battery operated candles, which are much safer than real candles! 

This year, we will also be planting wheat berries, a tradition in Hungary, Croatia and other European countries. I ordered a St. Lucia wheat planting kit  from The Confraternity of Penitents Gift Shop in  Middletown, Rhode Island. They suggest planting the seeds on December 13 so green shoots will be showing by Christmas. They then recommend placing the plant near your Nativity set to remind us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a word that means "House of Bread" and that bread (including the host used at Mass) is made of wheat.

We will be reading:

1) How to Make a Swedish Christmas by Helen Ingeborg. This book is filled with recipes and has some Swedish craft ideas, including directions on making heart-shaped woven tree ornaments and a straw Julbock (goat).

2) Lucia: Child of Light: The History and Traditions of Sweden's Lucia Celebration by Florence Ekstrand. A great little book that explains the history behind the Lucia festivities, in addition to information about tomte (Swedish elves or little people), plus recipes and lyrics for popular holiday songs like Santa Lucia.

3) Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker. A fiction story that follows the adventures of the Svensson family as their three children get ready for Lucia Day.


Lucia Morning in Sweden

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