When we first started celebrating St. Lucy's day four years ago, Junie wore a paper wreath and served Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate to Daddy in bed. The Chief had been out of town on business earlier in the month, and had missed Step 2's Christmas band concert, but the school was putting on a shorter version of the concert as a student assembly on the last day of school before Christmas break. The Chief took off the day from work so he could at least attend that; and kicking off our Christmas week with St. Lucy had been so special that we knew we'd be doing it again!
Since then, St. Lucy has become one of our most cherished Christmastime celebrations. We celebrate St. Lucy's breakfast, not on her feast day (December 13), but on the 4th Sunday of Advent. Step 1 & Step 2 stay overnight the night before, and Junie B. dresses up and awakens the family, candle in hand, to invite them to a special breakfast of a sweet wreath of homemade braided bread, hot cocoa and sausage omelets. The omelets are made by our family professional chef, Step 1, and one of the highlights is watching her awesome omelet-flipping skills!
We don't neglect the actual feast of St. Lucy, however. That, too, has a very special place in our Advent buildup toward Christmas. Every year on December 13, we plant a large dish of winter wheat seeds -- which grows so fast you can almost watch it happen! -- and use the cuttings (about 8" tall, 10 days later) to line the front porch Creche in a special enthronement ceremony on "Christmas Eve-Eve" (December 23 -- that's the night Santa also comes to our house.)
This year, little Taz was excited to get in on the action, in his first appearance as "Star Boy!" I made a cone-shaped hat for him using these directions. We painted it blue and studded it with glitter (I don't really know why; it just seemed "right"). His special job was to carry our Tinkertoy Jesse Tree as he led "St. Lucy" to wake up the rest of the family. (I don't care what the tradition is "supposed" to be; we do what we love!)
Every year, we've used a different recipe for St. Lucy's bread, none of them "authentic." This year, we used the same recipe we'd used to make St. Nicholas bread figures from the St. Nicholas Center website -- except I added a half a cup or so of candied fruit to the dough (next time, I'd use more), shaped it in the traditional braid, and topped it with a simple glaze of confectioners' sugar and cream. (This recipe is quick, easy even for the kids to handle, and very tasty!) Finally, we sprinkled the glaze with finely-chopped almonds. Mmmm!
Later in the day, we even made "Swedish Cookies" -- a special tradition from the Chief's family (via a Swedish tenant of his German grandmother's, way back when!), and a perfect extension to our Swedish-inspired celebrations. (I'll have to add a separate post with some of our favorite cookie recipes -- this one definitely makes the cut!) They are a simple cream wafer, rolled in granulated sugar with a special notched rolling pin before baking -- light, flaky and delicious!
When you add something new to your family's most cherished traditions, you don't know for sure if it will "take" -- especially when it involves waking up 18 and 21 year olds at the crack of dawn and putting them to work as part of the deal! Step 1 sealed it for us this year, though, when, on her way out the door this year she said, "I love that we celebrate St. Lucy!"