Saffron Buns Dominate St. Lucia's Day Food

Lussekatter is St. Lucia's Day's most identifiable food.

Any great holiday comes with great food associated with that holiday. St. Lucia's Day is no different. From meatballs to saffron buns, the holiday takes you deeper into Swedish cuisine than you can find at Ikea.

St. Lucia's day is a Swedish feast day dedicated to St. Lucia and observed every year on Dec. 13.

The holiday has some dark origins.

The tradition traces back to a martyr who died in 304 and the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam's first wife, who consorted with the devil.

"It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day," according to Sweden's official website.

Traditionally on St. Lucia's Day, girls dress up in long white nightgowns with red sashes and with wreaths of candles around their heads, while boys are “star boys,” with white gowns, pointed hats and candles in their hands, according to according to Sweden's official website.

Now on to the holiday's most identifiable food.

Lussekatter, a saffron bun, is most associated with the holiday.

The buns are baked into a reversed S-shape and are traditionally eaten during Advent.

Food.com suggests this traditional recipe.


300 ml milk
1 g saffron
50 g baker's yeast
150 g sugar
125 g butter or 125 g margarine
700 g all-purpose flour
1 egg


  • Melt butter or margarine in a pan and add the milk and the saffron.
  • Warm the mixture to 37C (100F).
  • Use a thermometer; the correct temperature is important!
  • Pour the mixture over the finely divided yeast; then add the remaining ingredients (except for the egg and the raisins), which should have a temperature of 21-23C (72-75F).
  • Mix into a smooth dough.
  • Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes.
  • Knead the dough, divide it into 25-30 pieces and form each piece into a round bun.
  • Let the buns rest for a few minutes, covered by a piece of cloth.
  • Form each bun into a string, 15-20 cm long, then arrange the string in a suitable shape, e.g. an S or double S. Regardless of the shape, the ends of the string should meet.
  • Press a few raisins into the dough.
  • Cover the"Lucia cats" with a piece of cloth and let them rise for 40 minutes.
  • Whip the egg together with a few grains of salt, and paint the"Lucia cats" with the mixture.
  • Bake them for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 250C (475F) until golden brownish yellow.


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