St. Lucia Day

I’ve always been enamored with Scandinavian culture. I had to have matching clothes with my Kirsten American Girl doll. I convinced my then-fiancé to enter — and subsequently place second in! – a Scandinavian Festival wife carrying contest (true story – thanks, GirlDad – the beer trophy was stolen from us). I have no less than two jars of lingonberries in my pantry at all times. But while my family is part Swedish on my mom’s side, I have never made St. Lucia buns, the saffron infused buns traditionally served by the family’s eldest daughter, clad in a white gown with a head wreath of candles, on the morning of St. Lucia’s Day.

Truth is, I still haven’t taken the plunge to bake these special buns… but luckily, my renaissance man of a husband’s latest hobby is bread baking, so it was easy to convince him to have a go at it. On Saturday night, he prepped the dough and got up early on the 13th, St. Lucia Day, to bake the “S” shaped buns known as lussekatter. He followed this recipe and per my request, added a teaspoon of cardamom, a flavor often found in Scandinavian cuisine that I am especially fond of. The buns turned out really well and made for a really fun and memorable holiday moment! 


While our eldest daughter is still too young to carry St. Lucia buns and hot coffee (or to balance candles on her head) to serve us a proper St. Lucia Day breakfast, we definitely want to incorporate this into our holiday traditions in the future. In  the meantime, she enjoyed dressing up and wearing what she called a “Christmas Crown” with what is now her Kirsten doll. 

Additionally, while Finland is technically Nordic vs. Scandinavian, that same weekend I also made one of my favorite winter recipes, Finnish meatballs. While I love Swedish meatballs (including those from IKEA), Finnish meatballs take things a step further by incorporating CHEESE! So on top of all that savory, allspice laden goodness you also get to enjoy ooey gooey bites of gouda! I like to follow this New York Times Cooking recipe. This time I made a small tweak by using rye bread instead of white because it’s what we had on hand. While I didn’t notice much of a difference in taste, I’ll probably continue to use rye in the future because it reminds me of a Christmas tradition on my mom’s side of serving cookies with caraway seeds.


I put extra buns in the freezer with plans to serve them again during the holiday season. Next time, alongside another Scandinavian favorite: glögg!