Saint Lucia Day -- Christmas in Sweden -- Christmas in Different Lands

Today we are participating in Multicultural Kid Blogs's Christmas in Different Lands Series. We decided to take a closer look at Saint Lucia Day in Sweden. We first discovered about Saint Lucia Day in the American Girl books about Kirsten. Hazel fell in love with the retired Kirsten doll. She read all the Kirsten books to my parents over the phone and then my mother was able to get her a used Kirsten doll from her neighbor's granddaughter. Hazel says this doll is still the best gift she has gotten. She was so excited last Christmas to get her. My mother fell in love with Kirsten's clothes and accessories and especially loves the Saint Lucia Day outfit. Now the book, Kirsten's Surprise by Janet Shaw, shares a bit of the traditions and is how we first learned about Saint Lucia.

A long time ago when the Christians were being persecuted, some Christians hid the caves in Sweden since they feared for their lives. One young woman, Lucia, from the village would bring the food each night. She would light the way wearing a wreath with candles. They called her the bringer of light even on the darkest days. She became the patron saint of Sweden. 
Lucia in Vienna
Lucia in Vienna N_Creatures [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The tradition is for the oldest girl of the house to wear a white robe with a red sash and a wreath with lit candles early in the morning of December 13th and bring a tray of saffron buns or other treats to her parents room. Boys of the house sometimes wear star hats and carry star lanterns. December 13th is known by the Catholic Church as Saint Lucia's Feast Day. There are also feasts and Saint Lucia festivals throughout Sweden. There use to be a National Lucia picked each year, but now there is not. Schools often pick Lucia by random draw. (Source)

Lucia Claudia Gründer [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On this day traditionally there are saffron buns served though sometimes it looks like there is braided wreath of bread as well. I had big plans this weekend to make some saffron buns and/or braided circular bread (to represent the wreath). Traditionally it is served with glögg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (ginger snaps). (Source with recipe links) I found a recipe of family-friendly glögg which uses juices instead of wine. We didn't make any of this either. Of course December 13th is on Thursday so I still have time.

There is also a Santa Lucia song. You can see the words in both Swedish and English here. You can also hear the song in the video below. 

Now we did make some crafts. Kirsten had a Saint Lucia Day tray, but of course it is hard to find and rather expensive on ebay since it was retired long ago. 
Kirsten's Tray
We decided to try to make our own version. I made some saffron buns from clay and made a heart candle holder (I still need to paint it red). I also made some paper leaves and used pom poms as berries. Now I just need to paint the tray and get a cloth.

Hazel is excited to have the tray and managed to balance it on Kirsten's hand. I am planning on using pipe cleaners to make handles for the tray.

I also made a paper wreath with paper candles for Hazel. I have seen on several sources that the wreaths usually have seven candles, so I made seven candles for her wreath. She was not too excited to model for me since I interrupted her crafting.

I made the wreath by making a ring to fit her head out of green paper. Then I used three shades of green and two punches--leaves and a flower. I glued the punched out shapes all over. Then I rolled white paper into candles and added flames and glued them on. I'm pretty happy with it. I am thinking of adding some red ribbons though. 

Some other ideas to celebrate and learn about Saint Lucia Day from Real Life at Home.

1) Easy Ways to celebrate Saint Lucy

2) Saint Lucy Printable Packets for Sale

Now to learn about Saint Lucia Day we took some books out of the library (besides the Kirsten one which we own). These books have been used as sources for some of the information shared in this post.

I read that it is usually after Saint Lucia Day that houses are decorated for Christmas although they do use Advent calendars and such. Sweden also has some other interesting Christmas traditions like the bowl of porridge for the tomten or house gnome and the almond in the rice pudding. To learn about these some more we recommend these books that we took out of the library.

Now we need to practice walking with candles on our heads so we can be ready for Thursday morning. What fun traditions do you have?

Christmas in Different Lands 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs 

 Welcome to our sixth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! Each participating blogger will share about Christmas in another culture or country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest! Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs's board Christmas Around the World on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

December 10 Crafty Moms Share

Celebrate Christmas Around the World Printable Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs

Don't miss our other posts about Christmas in different lands, plus our printable pack Celebrate Christmas Around the World, on sale now!