Santa Lucia Day
Meanwhile, in the Nordic countries
In Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Norway and Finland, December 13 is Santa Lucia Day. This feast day honors the Saint Lucia of Syracuse.
According to legend, Santa Lucia “brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman Catacombs, wearing a candle-lit wreath on her head to light her way and to leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.”
White, red, and flammable
In communities, one girl is nominated as Lucia for this feast day. She wears a long white gown, red sash and a lighted wreath on her head. Traditionally, real candles were used in Lucia’s crown but, these days, battery-powered candles are favored (for obvious reasons).
The designated Lucia and a procession of children visit hospitals and the homes of the elderly to serve coffee and pastries, like lussekatter, a cat-shaped saffron bread with raisin eyes, and pepparkakor, crispy ginger snap biscuits. These treats are washed down with glogg (a mulled wine) or coffee.