Scandinavia Celebrates the Feast of St. Lucia

To see more festive photos and videos, browse the #santalucia, #lussekatter and #lucia hashtags.

In Scandinavia, you are guaranteed three things each winter: long nights, crisp snowy days and the feast of St. Lucia. Every December 13, children in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark celebrate the gift of light, the coming of Christmas and the ancient Norse tradition of the Winter Solstice. St. Lucia’s traditions include a luciatåg—a candle procession symbolizing the gift of light—and eating saffron buns with raisins called lussekatter.

Foodies Ida Skivenes (@idafrosk) and Linda Lomelino (@linda_lomelino) look forward to the yearly celebration as a time for gathering together with loved ones and baking lussekatter. “For me, St. Lucia Day means Christmas is coming near. It’s a warm and cozy celebration, perfectly timed for the usually cold and dark winter,” says Skivenes. “As a child, I would take part in the candle processions, dressed in a white robe, holding a lit candle, and handing out freshly baked saffron buns while singing the Lucia song. As an adult, I simply enjoy eating the pastries and drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine (gløgg) with friends or family.”

Ina Johnsen (@matpaabordet), enjoys the luciatåg. “If you are lucky enough to have kids in kindergarten you’ll have adorable boys and girls dressed in angelic white nightgowns with silver wreaths around their heads to send off to school.” The children mirror the actions of St. Lucia, a third century martyr who is said to have secretly delivered food to persecuted Christians in the catacombs of Rome by bringing candlelight and lussekatter to friends and family.

Stories differ on where and when lussekatter, which translates to “cat eyes,” entered into the feast day tradition, but people of all ages eagerly look forward to eating the special S-shaped pastries spiced with saffron to intensify the flavor and color of ordinary yeast buns. “I always eat at least one lussekatt,” says Lomelino. “But preferably more!” Amid of the cold, dark winter, you’ll find those celebrating St. Lucia Day sharing scenes on Instagram of these special pastries and drinks in the warm company of friends and family.