Saint Lucy Day and Saint Lucy Buns

December 12, 2011

Sadly, Scandinavia joined the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and thus lost that link with the Papacy forged in 960 with the baptism of Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, king of Denmark and Norway.

With Protestantism, devotion to most saints was abandoned, but among the few that remained was Saint Lucy, the noble virgin-martyr of Syracuse, Sicily. Devotion to her ebbed and flowed, but today, it is greatly celebrated with the tradition known as Saint Lucy Day.

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Saint Lucy is venerated on her feast day, December 13, in a ceremony where a young girl is chosen to portray the noble virgin and martyr. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of other girls, each holding a candle, and singing a song in honor of Saint Lucy. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take Saint Lucy’s life when she was sentenced to be burned to death by the Roman judge, during the persecution of Diocletian.

Each Scandinavian country has its own lyrics of the song in honor of Saint Lucy, but the general theme is how Saint Lucy’s light overcomes the darkness.

Among the sweet confections consumed on Saint Lucy’s Day are the Saint Lucy buns.

 

 LUSSEKATTOR

½ Cup butter

1 ¼ Cup milk

¼ tsp. saffron

1 Tbsp. dry yeast

½ Cup sugar

5 ¾ Cup flour

Raisins

1 egg

Salt

 

Melt butter in a pan and add the milk and the saffron. Warm the mixture to 98.6°F (37°C). Use a cooking thermometer, because the correct temperature is important. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture, let stand for three minutes, then add the remaining ingredients (except for the egg and raisins), which should be at room temperature. Mix into a smooth dough.

Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead the dough, divide it into 25 to 3 pieces and form each piece into a round bun. Let the buns rest for a few minutes, covered by a piece of cloth.

Form each bun into a string, 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) long, then arrange the string in a suitable shape, e.g., a figure eight or a double S.  Regardless of the shape, the ends of the string should meet. Press a few raisins into the dough. Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let them rise for 40 minutes. Whip the egg together with a few grains of salt, and paint the dough with the mixture. Bake them for 5 to 10 minutes at 475°F (250°C) until golden brown.

Makes 25 to 30 buns.

 

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