Sunday, Dec 18
I don’t remember where I first heard about the beautiful traditions surrounding the Feast of St. Lucy. It was probably on the blogs I started reading when I had two little ones, twenty months apart and was desperate for some direction and perspective. What I discovered was a world of catholic family living, beautiful, real live depictions of the Domestic Church and I wanted in on it. The celebrations of the Liturgical Year, specifically Saints’ feast days were what appealed to me the most. Really, what I desired so deeply, were traditions, and so began our family’s observance of the Feast of St. Lucy, the Swedish way.
I should mention that we are not Swedish, but I feel like when you’re catholic, you get to enjoy all the cultures of the world when you venerate the Saints. If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, well, we’re Swedish on December 13th.
This year, more than any other, our family’s traditions are so important. Having moved out of our Virginia home of eight years, here to Indiana, so very many things have changed. When you have young children, those changes can cause a ripple effect of reactions, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Clinging to traditions from our days in NoVa has really grounded us here in the Mid-West. In fact, it reminds me of the darling books that we read each year around this time, Hanna’s Christmas and Kirsten’s Surprise. In both stories, the young girls are living with their families in the United States and missing their homeland of Sweden. It is the celebration of the Santa Lucia traditions that makes them feel more at home in a new land.
This year, we decided to move our early morning breakfast in bed tradition from the traditional December 13th to the following Saturday. Our little “Lucy Queen” was a bit disappointed, but, having been in a boot for a foot injury for the past two weeks, she was happy to wait. On her feast day, the doctor told her she no longer had to wear her boot, so yesterday, she was able to carry trays of Saint Lucy bread up the stairs to her dad and siblings with ease.
Speaking of Saint Lucy bread, we have never actually baked the traditional “lussekatter” saffron buns, although I would love to try to someday. In fact, for the past two years, I’ve gotten the cinnamon rolls in the tubes from the grocery store. You know the ones: slathered in icing, jam-packed with sugar. They were sufficient. The idea was to celebrate the feast, trying not to stress ourselves out, or worse, not celebrate just because we didn’t have time for homemade bread. But this year, moving the feast to Saturday was perfect for taking the time to bake Saint Lucy Braided Bread. I have made this a couple of times before, but never has it turned out quite as beautifully as it did this year. Dimples and I woke up at six o’clock to get started. We followed all the steps of the recipe with one added little trick that I think was the key to our success. At the advice of a chef friend of mine, I allowed the dough to rise in a greased bowl, covered with a hand towel in a warm oven. I just heated the oven at the lowest setting then turned the heat off. Allowing the dough to proof in a warm oven cut the allotted dough rising time in half. Then we followed the recipe, punching down the dough, cutting it into three equal pieces, rolling it out, and braiding it. We placed it on a greased cookie sheet, covered it with a towel, and placed it back in the warm oven to proof again. Again, the rising time was cut in half. Another little tip: Have some foil ready while the bread is baking. Ours got nice and golden brown a little too early, so for the remaining baking time I loosely covered it with a couple of pieces of aluminum foil and it did the trick! I also have a glazing tip for you. Place a cooling rack over some parchment paper. Put the bread on top of the cooling rack after you’ve let it cool for about five minutes. Drizzle the glaze on the bread. Then slide the bread off the cooling rack onto a platter. This helps keep your platter nice and clean, if you care. Follow me on Snapchat! I love Snapping when I bake and cook. I was adding to my story all morning on Saturday. So fun.
It’s a lot of fun executing these family traditions with my children. It was tricky when they were too little to really help out. Now that Dimples is older, she gathers all the trays, sets them up, gets herself all dressed up in her Saint Lucy outfit, and just loves being a part of this tradition.
The rest of the family obviously loves this particular feast. I know we’ll look back on the years we had our children under our roof and this annual treat in bed tradition will be at the top of our list of fondest memories.
A note about her white dress… Our Dimples has been wearing various flower girl dresses given to us by a few nieces who were in our wedding. Well guess what? The biggest size we have won’t fit her for next year’s Saint Lucy Day. All the crying emojis. I could barely button this one up the back! Ah well. We’ve enjoyed many years of these lovely little dresses. I’m hoping our friends who are visiting their family in Sweden for Christmas this year could pick up the real deal while they’re there. Wouldn’t that be awesome!?
We’re making memories, one month at a time in our new home. I’m so glad. Each week that passes, I feel more settled. God is good!
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