In Sweden, Norway and some Swedish speaking parts of Finland, December 13th is a day of celebration and light, and is commonly known as St Lucy's Day (or St. Lucia's Day). St Lucy was one of the first Christian martyrs, killed by the Romans for her beliefs. Lucy means 'light', and it's on December 13th when it's one of the darkest days in the month that she is remembered, and towns everywhere are lit up with candles as 'light overcomes darkness'. In most towns, a young girl is elected St Lucy, and she gets to wear a long white robe with a red sash, and dons a green garland crown on her head which is covered in candles.
In case you might like to get involved with one of my favourite Advent traditions, I've put the recipe I used below.
What you need
1 tsp saffron threads
500g strong white flour
7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g Quark cheese
1 egg yolk
Handful of raisins
This is how you do it
- Heat the milk until it is lukewarm.
- Soak the saffron in the milk for 5-10 minutes so it gets a really yellowy colour.
- Combine the salt, sugar, flour and yeast together in a bowl. Make a well in the middle.
- Mix the melted butter into the milk and saffron and pour into the well.
- Add the Quark cheese.
- Stir this mixture briefly and then bring together as a dough.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for around 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a teatowel or clingfilm. Leave it in a warm place for around 1½-2 hours until well risen.
(This is where I usually go and watch a Christmas film. Any excuse!)
- Split the dough into 12 pieces. Roll them into long sausages using your hands. They should be around 8 inches long.
- Place on a greased baking tray, cover with a teatowel again and leave for 30 minutes to rise.
(Grab a cup of tea and dance around the kitchen to Christmas music. Best 30 minutes you will spend - I promise you.)
- Place a raisin in each side of the Lussekatter (2 per bun).
- Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
And that's how you make Lussekatter. It's a little time consuming, but definitely worth the wait. I love eating them when they're still warm with a little bit of Christmas Cake curd or some salted caramel cream (which isn't strictly the Swedish way, but dayaaam it tastes good.) Make sure you eat them with a glass of mulled wine and share with your family and friends.
Happy St. Lucy's Day! God Jul!