Santa Lucia Day ~ A Beautiful Family Tradition6 min read

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Years ago, we learned about Santa Lucia Day in homeschool (thank you Konos!) and decided to make it a part of our Christmas celebration each year on December 13. While our family doesn’t celebrate saints, we do want to be lights to the world and this is a beautifully symbolic morning.

The tradition is all about dispelling darkness, being lights in the darkness. What a fitting symbol to show your family each year!

table set santa lucia day

What is Santa Lucia Day?

There are several stories of lore surrounding Saint Lucy. We don’t celebrate the actual person, but it’s interesting to note that the tradition has both Italian and Scandinavian roots.

In Italy, Santa Lucia apparently helped persecuted Christians in the Roman catacombs and lighted the way with a wreath of candles on her head. The Scandinavian version says that she would travel from farm to farm carrying a torch and bringing baked goods.

In Sweden the whole country celebrates a festival of light. Girls dress in white dresses, red sashes, and wreaths adorned with light. A traditional saffron bun is served with mulled wine to the family by the oldest daughter.

How We Celebrate

To celebrate, the oldest daughter of the family makes a treat (traditionally saffron buns but we make cinnamon rolls from biscuit dough) before dawn and then awakens everyone wearing a white dress, red sash and a wreath with lighted candles. No electric lights are turned on. Only candles are lit, and everyone sits down to a pre-sunrise meal. We look forward to this morning more than any other all year!

What you need…You can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Here are a few ideas…

  • We don’t make saffron buns. We make cinnamon rolls from biscuit dough. They’re very simple, especially for young girls.
  • Serve coffee, tea, or chai.
  • Prepping the night before makes the morning much easier.
  • Set a pretty table with lots of candles. No electric lights please!
  • The girls wears a white dress, red sash or ribbon, and a wreath on her head. We don’t recommend lighted candles on her head…Do what you can. If you don’t have a wreath, use a bit of greenery.
  • Get up early, make your treat, and wake everyone before the sun comes up. It being dark outside is a must. So those candles dispel darkness.
  • Talk about how we’re supposed to be lights to the world. What a beautiful time to teach your kids or grandkids about the light of Christ!
  • Don’t make it perfect. Just do it, okay??

The First, Flaming Year We Celebrated and an Encouraging Word to Mamas and Grandmas…

Even if you can’t try this fun tradition on the exact date of December 13, please pick a day to add this to your Christmas season! Several times over the years, we couldn’t have our pre-dawn breakfast on the exact day, so we just did it when we could. Our family would be very disappointed to miss it.

If you only have boys, let them do it. Why not?! If you don’t have children in the home, celebrate anyway, or have your sweet grandchildren over and teach them a new tradition!

At the time of this blog post, Carolina is 22 and Georgia-Kate is 16. They both love to get up so early on a chilly morning to be the bearer of light and sometimes partner now that they are older. But it was 8 year old Carolina who was our first little wreath wearer.

The second year we had Santa Lucia Day I had started blogging–many moons ago when blogging was still so real and raw. I prefaced a post on Santa Lucia, but Carolina was my guest blogger. I want to share her blog post so you can see how precious it is to let your kids do activities like this.

Here is Carolina’s Santa Lucia post at 9 years old…

(As we didn’t want Carolina’s flaming hair to be part of the morning, I told her to wear the candles but not light them. Her little 9 year old ears skipped the part about not lighting and she came upstairs all aglow!)

Carolina dressed for Santa Lucia

Every year I look forward to St. Lucia. This year is the 2nd year I have done it. This year I did better than last year.

For example, last year when Mother woke me up, I was scared to death to go downstairs, because as I started to go downstairs I saw that the lights were off, so I ran back to my room and cried until I saw my reading light, turned it on and slowly went downstairs. That’s when I saw that mother had left the butler’s pantry light on for me.

That night before I had gone to bed, I had gotten some stuff ready and I asked if I could get the ingredients out but Mama said not because it was time for bed. So when I entered the butler’s pantry, I discovered that Mother had put out all the ingredients and put a stool, the heater and a sweet encouraging note out. That made me happy.

When the cinnamon rolls were done, I slipped on my dress and wreath and lit the candles. I went upstairs. Mama and Daddy were awake and talking on their bed. Mama gasped when she saw that I had lit the candles on the wreath I wore on my head.

This year Dad woke me up and gave me a note from Mama. I wasn’t scared to go downstairs this time. I just went right down as if I did it everyday. I started cooking. I pretended I was on a cooking show! It didn’t take too long because I had gotten everything ready the night before. Here’s my menu:

  • Sliced bananas and mangos
  • Cinnamon rolls (My mom will post the recipe)
  • Hot Chai Tea
  • Coffee

When I was trying to cut the mango it was very hard to peel. And then I cut the whole thing wrong! I was cutting it like an avocado and trying to pull the two sides off! Then I remembered how to do it. Do not fret…this year I didn’t light the candles on the wreath!

I enjoy doing this ever year and we had a good time.

My Sweet Little Georgia Peach…

georgia with candle
Georgia with candle

Enjoy your Santa Lucia Day!

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