artist advent calendar : camilla engman

Hi there, I'm Camilla Engman and I'm going to tell you a little about how we celebrate the 13th of December here in Sweden. For me it has always been a holiday I long for. A holiday with a lot of fun.

Here's a little about how I see the Lucia day.

First some history. According to Wikipedia - Saint Lucia Day is the Church feast day dedicated to St. Lucia and is observed on December 13. It retains traditional forms of celebration mainly in Scandinavia, parts of the United States and southern Europe.

In Scandinavia, this was also the date in the Gregorian calendar earlier celebrated by the hedonic population that was afraid of Lucifer (the devil himself) which still today somewhat lives through the tradition of Lussevaka - Stay awake on the night between 12th till 13th and guard oneself against being taken by Lucifer lord of darkness by having an all night party. This is still carried out today mostly by the younger population having great parties (= drinking a lot of alcohol). When the light then arrives with the morning you are safe again.

In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucia comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl dressed in white gown, red sash and a crown of lingonberry branches wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each. Accompanied by boys dressed as "star boys" also with long white gowns and white cone-shaped hats adorned with golden stars. Lucia carries a tray of coffee and the traditional pastry, called Lussekatter (Lucy Cats), which are saffron buns with a few raisins, baked in symbolic shapes.

Lucia is coming with the light.

Camilla with her brother

When I was a child this was one of the most popular day of the year, after my own birthday and Christmas. Mom woke up my brothers and me early in the morning when it was still totally black outside. We lit candles and ate Lussekatter watching the national Lucia procession on TV before we dressed our self in white gowns and went to school where it all continued. The school had its own Lucia procession. Sometimes we (my classmates) went to our teacher (and her husband), to wake them up with singing and coffee. I'm not sure how appreciated that was.

After school we went knocking on doors asking people if they wanted us to sing for them, if they answered yes we walked in to their home, all dressed in white gowns and lit candles singing Lucia songs.

It is traditional to eat Lucia Buns and gingerbread, we drink coffee, glögg (warm wine with spices and hard liqour) or Julmust (sort of Coca Cola made of juniper berries). You also need to light a candle or two :)

Here is a recipe for Lucia Buns

And this is my recipe for Swedish Glögg:

For 2 liters

2 pieces of dried orange peel
2 pieces of dried ginger
3 pieces of whole cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon ground cardamom

200 ml liquor (like Vodka)
200 ml red Port
1,5 liter red wine
300 grams sugar

Put the spices in a jar with the liquor. Let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain it through a coffee filter. Mix it with the port, wine and sugar. Warm it before you serve it, but don't let it boil.

Serve the glögg with blanched almonds and raisins.

I hope you will like it :)


Thank you Camilla for sharing your traditions for St. Lucia Day! We made the Lucia Buns and the Glögg (in the photos above) yesterday and both were very good! Happy holidays!