...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December 13 is Sta. Lucia day

Sweden, though a protestant country, celebrates a feast day of St. Lucy (Sankta Lucia), a Catholic saint. Like most other fiestas I can imagine, this is day is highlighted, (among other things), by eating. In this occasion, the specialty food are saffron-flavored buns called Lussekatt, or Lussebullar (what you call them partly depend on what shape they take: the ones shaped like S’s, as the ones in the picture, vaguely resemble cats and are therefore called Lussekatt. Lussebullar refer to the round buns with the same flavor, but the name may also be used to refer to the “cats”.)

Sankta Lucia herself is associated with light and brightness (Lucy, from lux, a word which Ateneans no doubt know, heheh!). Her feast day then, at least by the old Christian calendar, falls at winter solstice, the darkest day in the whole year. This possibly also explains why Swedish protestants celebrate this day--as other introduced Christian traditions, the feast day rides on existing pagan rituals already in the country, in this case winter solstice.

I earlier said that eating saffron-flavored buns is just one among the highlights of this day (the buns though, are available all Christmas-season round). One of the other Lucia traditions is the choosing of a national “Lucia” in a televised contest that resembles an adolescent version of Little Ms. Philippines, or perhaps a kiddie version of Ms. Sweden, as the candidates are finalists from their respective areas around the country. The difference though, is instead of bathing suits and evening gowns, the young Lucia finalists don white ankle-length and long-sleeved gowns, and instead of a crown of gems, they win a crown of leaves and candles. All this is a bit creepy for me, but that’s how it is… you can read more about this day and its traditions at Wikipedia.

I can say though that Marcus, being in a music school in his gradeschool years, was “tortured” to sing the Sankta Lucia song year after year in public with his classmates… wearing the male version of the Lucia “nightgown”, and with a white cone-shaped gnome hat to boot. Oh, how I would have paid to see this! Haha!

P.S. (Dec 14) One online Swedish newspaper has its own version of the Lucia contest, where one can vote by SMS which cat should be the next "Lussekatt". The owners post their cat candidate's pictures, life story, talents, etc., and the winner gets to win 1000 kronor worth of cat food!!! MEEOOOW!! (This year's Lussekatt owner gave the food away to a cat orphanage though. :-) )

See Tags: food, events


Blogger Selene said...

Hi, Joy. I've been following your blog, just unable to leave comments. Anyway, here's one. :-) Seems to me you are gradually learning the Swedish way of life and such fun taking up from the gastronomical aspect of it. Looking at the pictures and reading your description makes me dream of Sweden sometimes.

Where are you and Marcus celebrating Christmas? In Germany with Liz and baby by any chance?

Will take time to write you something a little bit more decent one of these days. ;-p

Happy Christmas and miss you a lot!

Hug, Lai

6:58 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Haha, yeah... food is always a nice thing to write about. I was worried that this month's entries will make my blog look like a food review site though. I really also have other things in mind to write about but I need pictures of them. Glad you're been following my blog though.

Spending Christmas here in Sweden, and the new year in Germany with Liz, Rob and "the kid" as we now call him. :-)

Merry Christmas!

5:32 PM


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