Today is the 13th of December, which means it’s one of Sweden most beloved holidays: Saint Lucia’s Day.
The official story is that it’s the celebration of Saint Lucy of Syracuse but there is some evidence the tradition also has pre-Christian elements. Many legends about this particular night exist, including the story of a mysterious female figure known as Lusse, who rides with her infernal spirit entourage in a Wild Hunt called the Lussiferda and visits every home. Certain preparations have to be made for the visit of Lusse or she will be very crossed and possibly curse you.
One of those preparations is an offering of lussekatter or ‘Lusse cats’, a type of golden saffron buns. This is why it is customary to bake and/or eat lussekatter on this day. As is tradition, I ate a couple today:
Truth be told, I’ve actually eaten one about every other day since they began to sell them in stores, around the end of November. And I have no regrets.
There are some theories as to who this Lusse woman is. Lilith, Frigg and Freya have been named as possible candidates. Considering that Freya is associated with both gold and cats, it would make sense to give lussekatter as an offering.
But Lusse could also have been her own being. It remains a mystery to us modern people. Either way, it’s a fun celebration and a good excuse to enjoy some delicious saffron buns.
Here’s what a Sankta Lucia celebration can look like. This is a video filmed in a church in my hometown:
Happy Lucia Day!