DECEMBER 13 - time for LUCIA in Sweden.
Lucia, the bearer of light, is the girl with the candles in her hair and a long white gown. The rest are her maids, and the boys have white long hats with gold stars, called Staffan's stable boys with their own dedicated song.
Every Swede has partaken in a Lucia parade at some point, usually in school singing the traditional Lucia and Christmas songs. For the school ones there was lots of practice, mostly for the song but also where to walk and stand. At the actual event it was not uncommon for a kid to faint as it was early in the morning and you have to stand still for a long time. Do not recall any ADHD in those days...
At home early in the morning on the 13th we dress up in all white, carry candles, and serve coffee and “lussebulle” (saffron flavored buns) and ginger snaps.
Anki's most memorable Lucia festival took place on horseback. Her riding academy in Stockholm organized an impressive parade of Lucia and her maids and "star boys" riding in a well-rehearsed choreographed pageant. First came Lucia on a white horse followed by 30 star boys and maids on their horses and ponies. Although it was still dark and cold at 7 a.m., with the lights and the beautiful singing, it was all quite wonderful.
Here's a short video that explains the Lucia tradition and the celebration that continues to present day:
Another holiday tradition in Sweden is to enjoy glögg, a warm spiced wine. Perfect when there is a bit of chill outside - warm and with the smell of the spices, some candles and clementines, instantly festive.
All of this helps against the dark and cold winters.
Here’s our favorite recipe for glögg. For a festive treat serve with almond and raisins in the cup and ginger snaps on the side.
Red or white wine glögg
- 1 bottle of red or white wine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 18 whole cloves
- 8 whole cardamon pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 piece of ginger (approx. 1 inch)
- Lemon or orange peel
- Mix wine, sugar and spices, then heat.
- Turn off the heat when the sugar has melted.
- Cover and leave to stand for an hour.
- As the alcohol burns off, add 4oz. vodka or cognac.