Santa Lucia This Year

Making bread for Santa Lucia His beautiful, clever hands

Happy Santa Lucia Day! Yesterday Asher and I made a lovely cardamom bread dough and the boys and I shaped it together after school.

Too brown, but otherwise delicious. Happy Santa Lucia!

I had a baking mishap—I cooked it a little too long, or maybe too hot—and so it’s a little browner on top than I’d like it to be, but it still tastes delicious in every other regard. We had a nice, special breakfast this morning. I am pretty sure the kids weren’t too into it this year, although Lucas did say Santa Lucia bread is his favorite bread. Asher wouldn’t eat it. What can ya do?

The Winter Concert is tonight at our Waldorf school, and the whole school, grades 2 through 12, will perform songs with voices and instruments. The sixth grade is performing the traditional (for us?) sword dance tonight. Every year it is a joy to watch, but this year is special to me because Lucas’s class is dancing. He is not very enthusiastic about it.

Sword dance, sixth grade

(This is a sword dance shot from last year.)

Anyway, I hope this day brings you a sweet moment of light in the darkness. May you be with people who shine love into your life.

Santa Lucia: Lights in the Darkness

Santa Lucia Braided Bread

It’s Santa Lucia Day today. My stjärngossar (star boys) helped me make Lussekatter (Santa Lucia buns) last night.

My Baker Boy Lucas

It worked well to have them help mix the dough, then later form the buns before bedtime.

Santa Lucia Lussekatter

Aren’t they pretty? I should have been more liberal with the egg yolk wash over the top and I should have had my oven a little cooler. I don’t do this kind of baking very often because if I did I would EAT all the buns. This year we used the “traditional Lucia buns” recipe that our kids’ Waldorf school provided. It worked beautifully. I used a bit of saffron, which may have been too old to color the dough much, and some cardamom as well for some kick. I didn’t have raisins on hand so we used dried currants instead.

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 1/2 c warm milk
1 c sugar
3/4 c butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron (or use 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1 teaspoon grated orange peel)
about 7 1/2 c all-purpose flour
about 1/2 c raisins (or currants)
2 egg yolks mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water

In a large bowl combine yeast and water; let stand 5 minutes. Warm the milk and add the saffron to it. Blend in the milk, saffron, sugar, butter, egg, and salt. Stir in about 6 1/2 cups of flour to form a stiff dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed. Place dough into greased bowl and then turn over. Allow to rise in a warm place 1 hour, until doubled in size. Punch dough down, knead lightly again. Pinch off balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and roll into a rope about 10 inches long. Curl ropes into S-shapes or into double S-shapes to make a curved cross. Put raisins into the centers of the curls. Cover and let rise about 1/2 hour, until almost double. Brush well with yolk and water mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Check often.

Santa Lucia Braided Bread Before Baking

I also made this beautiful braided loaf. I don’t know if I have ever made anything like this before and I am so pleased with how it turned out. Next time I think I’ll turn down the oven just a tad and bake only about 22 minutes.

Santa Lucia Braided Bread Just After Baking

This morning, for Santa Lucia, I warmed the braided bread loaf and put candles in it. I drizzled a bit of powdered sugar glaze over the top and it was yummy! The kids took some Lussekatter buns to school for their teachers. And I had my dad over this morning for coffee and some bread. Then I indulged in watching several YouTube videos of Lucia festivals in Sweden. I love the music.

The night goes with heavy steps
around farm and cottage;
round the earth the sun has forsaken,
the shadows are brooding.
There in our darkened house,
stands with lighted candles
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The night passes, large and mute
now one hears wings
in every silent room
whispers as if from wings.
See, on our threshold stands
white-clad with candles in her hair
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The darkness shall soon depart
from the earth’s valleys
then she speaks
a wonderful word to us.
The day shall be born anew
Rising from the rosy sky.
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

Carl Larsson, “Lucia Morning”

I admit I love these lesser known (at least to us) holidays. Our family can celebrate them or not, as we like and as our lives and time permit. We can make them what we wish because there aren’t loads of people whose needs have to be considered, nor are there decades of family tradition to hold to or break, with all the accompanying risk that goes with breaking it. We don’t hurt anyone’s feelings by doing our own thing because no one in our extended families celebrates holidays like Saint Nicholas Day or Santa Lucia Day or Candlemas or Saint Patrick’s Day. With just a little effort I can make otherwise ordinary days special for my children, just by choosing to celebrate. And these holidays don’t require a month or more to get ready, the way that Christmas does. So these festivals will be a part of our family until they no longer serve us and enrich our lives in this way. For now, we’re are enjoying them very much.

Dragon Bread for Michaelmas

Dragon Painting by Lucas

Lucas’s watercolor dragon painting, which is on display in our home.

Today is the official Feast of Saint Michael. Michael was the archangel who threw Lucifer out of heaven. It is Michael who sends us courage to fight the good fight, to face up to dragons and monsters in ourselves and our society, which seems so very necessary in these difficult times. How do you meet on the battlefield the dragons of fear, hate, greed, and bigotry? What will you do to celebrate and conjure courage and goodness?

Dragon Bread Recipe (3rd Grade Cooking)

Last year in school, Lucas’s third grade class made dragon bread and they copied the recipe into their cooking main lesson book. I’ll translate and fill in the gaps:


2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

3 3/4 cups  flour

3/4 cup warm water

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

Mix together the yeast and warm water. Let it rest. In another bowl, mix eggs, oil, salt, and sugar. Add flour. Add yeast and water mixture and mix until blended. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it’s firm and smooth, then round it into a bowl coated in a little oil. Turn the ball over once to coat both sides of dough with oil. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Now place your dough on a greased cookie sheet and shape it into a dragon. You can use scissors to cut legs, a mouth, scales, etc. Poke in almonds for teeth, or dried fruits for spikes,  if you wish. Cover and let your dragon bread rise again for about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Devour with righteousness!

The First Dragon Bread to Be Eaten for Michaelmas Dinner

Of course, any bread recipe you like will work just as nicely. Yum!

This Moment: Kneading

Inspired by SouleMama {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sun Bread

One of our favorite children’s books is Sun Bread, written and illustrated by Elisa Kleven. I’ve gushed about it (and other books of hers) before, and have given Sun Bread to many children over the years. Lucas still loves it. Asher loves it, and hears it both at home and at preschool. Yesterday morning he brought it to me and asked me to read the book to him. Of course I did.

When we got to the end, he asked if we could make sun bread. Um … of course we can. So, after school we started baking.

Asher Enjoys the Book

Asher looked at the book while Lucas and I mixed eggs and sugar, flour and yeast. I love Kleven’s illustrations!

Flour, Sugar, Eggs, and Yeast

Lucas was a wonderful assistant, which is good because I’m not much of a cook these days. He stuck by me during the whole project, mixing ingredients, kneading the dough, shaping our sun … and eating it, too.

My Crew Kneading

They both enjoyed this part! Why don’t we do this more often?

Friendly Sun Bread

Our super cute sun bread. Here it needs one more rise, then a short time in the oven. Since we started at 4 p.m., our bread wasn’t ready until after dinner and bath time, with the two, hour-long rising periods. But that was just fine, since a generous drizzle of local honey made it a yummy dessert. I think it was in the oven about two minutes too long, which gave it a darker crust than I would have liked to see. But the boys enjoyed it and it smelled heavenly! In fact, it was kind of torture for me and Ian, since we aren’t eating bread right now.

"Come Back for breakfast, please, dear sun."

“Bread so brilliant, bright, and sunny, Summer seemed to fill their tummies. Bread so fluffy and so fine, They felt themselves begin to shine …”

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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