Lucia in Stockholm around 1910, of Jenny Nyström
Lucia in Stockholm 1910
(Jenny Nyström)

Welcome to celebrate Lucia with us today! It’s a tradition here in Sweden at 13th of December since the medevial age. Many knows about the the martyr saint Lucia from Syrakusa in Sicily nowadays, but we didn’t back then. Mostly it was a celebration of the winter solstice.

This was the longest night of the year and there was a lot of supernatural powers out that night and it was better to stay awake to be on the safe side! So they slaugthered the pig and was partying the whole night before the christmas fasting started.

In the 17th – and 18th centurys in the western parts of Sweden, the farmers and their servents started to eat and drink early in the Lucia morning. There were big meals and beers, snaps or aquavit several times, in some areas it was tradition with 3 to 11 meals!!!

Oh, what a heaven for this hungry monster, can you please send me back in time??!!!

There were also one woman on the farm that was dressed in white like a bride and got to wear a wreath with candles on the head and our Lucia was born. This can be copied from Germany, where a girl were dressed up to be “Christkindlein”, with lighted candle in the head as a halo. Lucia can have been identical to the Jesus child.

The difference here was that this Lucia bride was connected to a lot of burlesque pranks. Some researchers have seen this as a symbol of the goddess Freyja (of love, beauty, sex, and attraction). The Lucia bride took the risk of being marked as loose-living, irresponsible and filled with lust.

Around 1900 the Lucia song was born with the first Swedish lyric of Sigrid Elmblad 1924 based on an Italian melody, Barcarola napolitana of Teodoro Cottrau. Later on there came other songs too, but we still sing this ones today in the “Lucia walk procession” (Luciatåg in Swedish).

It sure gives a very special atmosphere in the darkness of December…

The more modern Lucia tradition started 1927, when one of Stockholms newspapers started to choose Stockholms Lucia among women. It has since then evolved to drinking coffee and/or glögg and eat Lussekatter (Lucia buns) early in the morning today instead of the 3-11 big meals. Bummer…

Today we celebrate Lucia everywhere – in our private homes, in schools, in the daycare, at organisations and workingplaces. A lot of bigger towns has election of their own towns Lucia where the voting is in the local papers.

A Lucia tåg consists of 1 Lucia in the front and after her comes her attendants, dressed in white dresses they too, but not the wreath on the head, just one candle between their hands. There is also stjärngossar (starboys) and santa helpers. In the daycares, the children fighted so to become the Lucia earlier, so now they very often have several Lucias…

You might also have heard of the tradition in Grand Hotel in Stockholm to surprise the Nobel prize receivers with a Luciatåg in the morning. It’s a tradition in the newspaper to report about their big surprise. (I guess it seems rather strange to other countries).

I think that we hold a world record of the worlds biggest Luciatåg, a yearly one in The Globe arena, where 1200 persons are participating from music schools and Stockholms windinstrument orchestra.

When I was young I was party’ing all night before the Lucia morning too, no pigs around other than maybe humans though ;-) It’s still a tradition to stay awake until the morning and celebrate Lucia – not all do it, but we actually did this night!

A Lucia without glögg and lussekatter is no real Lucia for us Swedes.

Lifecruisers Lucia coffee with glögg and lussekatter
Lifecruisers Lucia tray this morning

What the heck is glögg?

Swedes has been drinking heated wine since the 16th century spiced with honey, sugar, cardemom, cinnamon, ginger and clove. Some time even heated cognac with melted sugar. The name glögg comes from the word “glödga” which means heat up.

It wasn’t until around 1890 that the glögg become a christmas tradition here in Sweden, probably just because glögg is warm and sweet and the Swedish winter is cold and bitter. I guess they were exhausted from trying to keep warm with love – either that or they didn’t want any more children ;-)

Glögg is as natural for us in Christmas time as Santa is!

What the heck is Lussekatter?

This special buns also comes from the medevial age when they thought that the holy Nikolaus walked around and handed out gifts to the children together with a devil figure, Lucifer. The word Lusse probably both comes from Lucifer and from the latin word Lux, that means light.

The reason for why lussekatterna was formed to a sun cross has also to do with Lucifer, as he was assumed to be afraid of the light and therefor the sun bread – lussekatterna – were supposed to scare him away and draw the sun back.

Saffron comes from the red pistilmark on a Crocus sativus. 1 kg of the flowers gives about 12 g dried saffron. It has been used for over 3,000 years as a spice and medicals, but even for parfume, mascara and coloring.

It says that Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable :-)

We baked Lussekatter…


Lifecruiser ingredients to bake Lussekatter


50 g butter
5 dl (0,5 L) milk
50 yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1,7 L wheat flour

1 g saffron
125 g butter
1,5 dl (150 ml) sugar
1 egg

1 egg, raisins
(granulated sugar, optional)

Melt the butter and pour the milk into it. The doug mixture should become 37°C (106°F, finger warm).

Crumble the yeast in a doug bowl. Pour the salt over it. Stir. The yeast melts from the salt. Pour some of the dougspad and stir until the yeast is mixed up.

Put in the rest of the doug mixture, salt, sugar and most of the wheat flour (1,4 L). Work the doug smooth.

Allow the dough to rise to double volume under a kitchen towel in a draft free spot for about 60 minutes.

Lifecruiser Lussekatter doug step 1

Crush the saffron or mix it with a little alcohol to solve it.

Stir the butter porous with the sugar. Add the saffron and the egg.

Lifecruiser Lussekatter doug step 2

Work in the saffron mixture with the rised dough in the dougbowl. Add the rest of the wheat flour – nearly 3 dl – save the last for the bake table.

Kneed the doug on the baking table and work in the rest of the wheat flour.

Lifecruiser Lussekatter doug step 3

Cut pieces off the dough to make lussekatter and put them on a baking plate. Put in some raisins.

Let them rise under a kitchen towel again for about 30 minutes to almost the double volume. Brush with the egg.

Lifecruiser Lussekatter doug step 3

Put into oven for about 8-10 min in 250°C (482°F)

Watch out so your oven have the right tem, our was too hot!

(The classic shape of a Lussekatt is the first pic)Lifecruisers lussekatt  Lifecruisers lussekatt
Lifecruisers lussekatt  Lifecruisers lussekatt
Lifecruisers lussekatt  Lifecruisers lussekatt
I guess we shouldn’t have played with the doug ;-)

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23 Comments on “Lucia with glögg & lussekatter”

    emma said:

    Luciakatter! Haven’t had them for YEARS now. Though I must admit, I’m not a fan of them. I prefer to make kanelboller, much tastier :)

    Lifecruiser: Well, don’t tell any one, but I prefer kanelbullar me too, but hey if it’s a tradition, it is a tradition to keep alive :-)

    Irish Church Lady CANADA said:

    Very interesting read. Glad to learn more about Lucia Day which I didn’t know anything about before even though I have been to Sweden once!

    You guys are dangerous with your Lussekatt bun making! How did I know you were going to work the twigs and berries along with the nips in there somewhere!! ha ha

    Lifecruiser: Well, we were forced to have some bun fun as usual…. *giggles*

    Nathalie NETHERLANDS said:

    Aaaah, thank you thank you! All the waiting paid of! :D
    I have saved the recipe, I will defenitly make them one day!
    I hope you have a wonderful time!

    Lifecruiser: I wish we could have recorded everything instead of taking just shots, it’s hard to get the real feeling in the shots sometimes…

    happy and blue 2 said:

    Happy Lucia to you and your naughty creations, ha,ha.
    Wearing candles on the head must get pretty hot. Not as hot as the baking, but hot none the less..

    Lifecruiser: Well, what can I say,we tried to avoid it, but it just took shape of itself *giggles*

    Friday's Child said:

    That was very informative.
    Mine’s up too.

    Lifecruiser: Yes, I myself find it almost too informative, but it’s difficult to explain this unusual tradition :-)

    Marie SWEDEN said:

    What a lovely Lucia breakfast you prepared! I love this day, especially as we live in a small town, so the procession goes right past our place and everything is so personal and accessible. I have to admit that I was rather startled the first year I was here to see a girl dressed in white with a crown of lit candles on her head (thinking pagan virgin sacrifice…), but after reading more about it, I thought it was a great way to give hope that the light WILL return.

    Not to mention a great excuse to make and eat Lussekatter. I’ve often wanted to make different shapes, but when I feel a bit stressed when I get to the rolling out bit, so I end up with the serpent “S” as it’s the easiest.

    Happy Lucia!

    Lifecruiser: Thanks Marie :-) You also gave the right word for tÃ¥g – procession, I couldn’t remember that this morning after glöggen… *lol*

    Danielle said:

    That’s a really interesting tradition and sounds like so much fun!!!

    I think I would have to eat closer to 11 meals to keep myself awake all night, I just don’t want to have to cook them all! LOL

    Lifecruiser: Yes, it has been a lot of partying and pranks around this tradition, so no wonder why it have survived!

    Froggie said:

    Interesting… :) Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about other places traditions.

    ps-love the ‘creations’… hehe… :)

    Lifecruiser: Yes, I love that too, so that’s why I write about it sometimes here. The creations was pure pleasure…. *lol*

    mar SPAIN said:

    Very, very interesting,Mrs L, I have seen pics of Lucia with the burning candles but had no idea it was today’s
    I guess you re-invented play-dough :)

    Lifecruiser: Yes, this was play-dough alright :-)

    Chana CANADA said:

    oh my dear friend. i have not abandoned you or your plea for votes. i’m sorry i have been missing for so long in the blog land becuase i just haven’t been up to anything but what i have had to do here at home. i’m sorry you weren’t well and glad you are better too. i’m sorry i didn’t get to post that vote for you post. pls forgive me, my daughter has kept me busy and when she is not, my emotions have.

    happy St. Lucia’s day to you and the hubby. what a beautiful post. i didn’t know about her and about the tradition there…and i like your baking, lol…for some reason it seems a bit sensual but i’m sure that is just me, lol..

    many hugs and much love.

    Lifecruiser: No need for an apology chana :-) I’m well aware of that you have other things keeping you busy! I do love when you come here, but I also understand when you don’t!

    (( hugs x 100))

    Melli UNITED STATES said:

    LC… isn’t there also a traditional “cereal” … warm… like oatmeal or something? Something special that you eat on this day? Or maybe it is on Christmas Day? I’m confused! I LOVE St. Lucia day — I love the crown with the candles! I would have liked to dress up as Lucia when I was a little girl and wear the crown!

    Lifecruiser: Ah, that is on Christmas day, you probably mean risgrynsgröt. A kind of rice porridge? Oh dear that didn’t sound tasty hah? But it actually is.

    R'acquel AUSTRALIA said:

    This was a pleasure to read, I love learning about these things – a big fan of cross-cultural understanding/sharing & “multi-culturalism” (and food is a primary source of potential world peace for me coz no matter where you come from, if the food is very yummy i think it has the power to transcend racism to a certain degree)

    Thanks for the recipe, i’m gonna take it on but must first replicate another rendition of the Swedish Cinnamon Buns with alternative dream fillings in a few days for an end of year BBQ. I’ll be sure to not overcook too much this second round. (Oh, the joys of learning from previous experience! lol)

    Is Lussekatter the same as Lussebullar? I love your creative inventions there, so funny & naughty too. Gave me a good laugh.

    Your Lucia tray looks sooooo romantic, it must’ve been wonderful. As for glögg, i would definitely opt for heated cognac. Turkish also has the “ö” letter, pronounciation is the same in German – is it the same in Sweedish?

    I also enjoyed your ingredients photo too – the packaging design is so much nicer in Sweedish. Such lovely colours & so aesthetic pleasing to my eye. I’ll be sure to try and take a similar photo to show you how ugly the Australian packaging design looks in comparison when i take this recipe on ;)

    All the best for Friday, i’ll see you then!

    Lifecruiser: You really sounds like my kind of gal :-) Yes Lussekatter is the same as Lussebullar. (bullar=buns). Yes, please do take photos of the packaging, it’s very interesting!

    C U L8er

    RennyBA NORWAY said:

    What a wonderful post – the best Lucia post I’ve ever seen – thanks so much for sharing in every details. And then Gløgg! I just love it!

    Celebrating Lucia is quite a new habit in Norway. It started in the 70s or late 60s in preschool and now every morning at the 13th of December workers with small children are late for work:-) We got it from Sweden of course – thanks!

    Lifecruiser: Oh, thanks you Renny. I’m glad you think that! And thanks for the info about Norwegian Lucia that I asked for. I’m happy for you that you have inherited this wonderful tradition from us :-)

    Nils BELGIUM said:

    Hey, thanks for this trip down old Memory Lane. Must try out that recipe. Then again, must still do so many many things. I’ll try ;-)

    Lifecruiser: Yes, I know hot that is… thousands of things is waiting… *lol*

    Gattina BELGIUM said:

    I didn’t know the history of Santa Lucia (as Mr. Gattino calls her) and it was very interesting to read ! But the today’s tradition I know quite well, because we have a lot of Swedish people here in Waterloo, because the Swedish school is here. We even have a swedish shop with all specialities. And of course IKEA !! In my area there are a lot and I have seen girls wearing the wreath. It really looks beautiful. And in my fitness club there are also a lot of swedish women and we talked about this feast.
    Now, I have another question for the party tomorrow “what should I do tomorrow” (not wear !)put a link to your blog ? Write something funny, put pictures ?? I never ever had a virtuel party in my life !

    Lifecruiser: Aha, so Swedes has invaded Waterloo ;-) Interesting.

    You got the party picture! You don’t have to put a link here, but the more the merrier, so that way we get more party mood people over here :-)

    You can either write something fun on your blog if it’s long .- or if it’s shorter in comments here, pictures is even more great! Use your fantasy! Everything is allowed as long as we have fun and that’s we gonna have for sure :-) )

    Rose said:

    Tisk Tisk. What were you told about playing with it? :)

    Lifecruiser: Oooops….. *lol*

    beth UNITED STATES said:

    This is a wonderful post! I love learning about other cultures and traditions and you explain this so well. Thank you for sharing! :cool:

    *We ants are still fighting the elephants :)

    Lifecruiser: Thanks Beth, I’m glad you enjoyed it .-) Yes, we are the little army of soldier ants… *lol*

    Blue Star Chronicles UNITED STATES said:

    Slacking on Blogging Thursday Round-up…

    Been really busy today and havenÂ’t had time to write earth shattering insights for the endless stream of fans that come by here (ha!). But I have looked at a few other blogs….

    eph2810 UNITED STATES said:

    thank you for the little history lesson on this special holiday of yours. Sounds like another great recipe :)

    Casted my vote once again…

    Lifecruiser: Thanks you too. I’m glad you enjoyed it :-)

    TorAa said:

    Living in Norway, so close to Sweden without knowing the history behind todays Lucia celebration, is honestly embarassing. I look down.

    But one Lucia”tÃ¥g” will allways be very special for me: On a SAS flight from Scandinavia to New York, a group of young, beautiful Swedes went down the rails fully dressed white Lucias, with candlelights singing the Lucia song. (Even my 5 year old grandson can the text). I guess those young woman are handpicked or something, may be a competition, to represent Sweden in New York. Do you know?
    PS. Wonderful posting and blog you have.

    Lifecruiser: Ah, don’t be embarassed – in that case I have to be that too, because I was forced to ask Renny if you had Lucia in Norway too….

    Most certainly were the women in the Lucia procession in NY handpicked, but I haven’t heard of any competition just for that. The one choosen as Swedens Lucia, get to do a lot of representing, but I guess she can’t be everywhere at the same time :-)

    Anyway, you’re most welcome to join in the party too! The more the merrier! I’ll try to pop over to you as soon as possible and check out your blog too!

    Chaotic Mom UNITED STATES said:

    Sorry Lifecruiser, I’m laughing my hiney off right now (it would take a LOT more dough to model my backside…) at your humor.

    I was modestly thinking about how cool it was to make your bread by hand. I rely on a bread machine to do my dough. Then I saw pics of your finished work. Tee hee hee! :lol:

    Lifecruiser: Good! Well, you see how fun it can be to bake…? *lol*

    Recept SWEDEN said:

    Awesome. :)
    I love lussekatter!

    Fida said:

    The supernatural powers worked :lol: Couldn’t sleep all night and decided to start my end year fast today – didn’t know about Lucia – what a beautiful story! And those Lussekaters? Don’t tempt me now – hihi.

    I cheer with “wiiwarm” – It’s Swiss for glögg – can really need it – woke up to minus 19C – I might rethink the fast – lol.

    Happy Christmas time!


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