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St Lucia’s Day

December 17, 2012

In Sweden, it is easy to think that St. Lucia Day is only about the saffron-infused, raisin-topped, reverse-S shaped buns (Lussekatter) which appear on every home and meeting table in the month of December:

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(photos by Ryo Yonami)

But in Fittja, the tradition of St. Lucia’s day at school is very important to many of our young friends, even if they themselves are not Catholic or born in Sweden. Our friends Kubra and Cevda invited us for 7am at their school, though we didn’t see them till later that day. Even the school told us to come back at 8; we were welcomed into the elementary school with a stern look and ‘shoe protection’:Shoe Protection at Fittja School

After appropriately outfitting our shoes we were seated in the school’s auditorium with its beautiful tapestry:

Forest tapestry at Fittja SchoolAnd then the saints walked in…

Saint Lucia Procession

Santas, Lucias, and gnomes on stageThere were so many kinds of saints on the stage, from female St Nicholas to every kind of St Lucia imaginable, except for Kubra and Cevda. Still it was fun to see the elementary school sing, and to hear the female drum corps lead them off the stage:

Drum CaptainWe got to cook with Kubra and Cevda later on, and to top off the holiday, Phil Hession gave an artist talk and performance event at the Fittja youth center which turned into an impromptu open mic and dance party.

Performance with Phil Hession at Fittja Youth CenterThe night ended at the Pelikan with traditional Swedish Christmas fare and a long slow farewell to Phil and his amazing project.

Menu at Pelikan

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(the elk)

What a treat. Thank you everyone – Cevda, Kubra, Phil, and everyone at Botkyrka Konsthall – for a really warm St. Lucia’s Day.

To make St. Lucia rolls in the style of Malin, an artist and farmer who is part of Kultivator, here is the recipe:

 6.5 cups of flour; 1 cake or 4.5 tsp of active dry yeast; 1 tsp salt; 1 cup fresh milk; 3/4 cup sugar; 1 cup melted butter; 1 tsp saffron threads pounded to a powder and mixed with 2 Tbs vodka; 2 eggs beaten together plus one egg white for glazing; raisins.

Melt 1 cup butter and add 1 cup milk with 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine and heat through.
Cool mixture to skin temperature in a large mixing bowl and break up or stir in yeast. After 5-10 minutes add 6.5 cups of flour gradually, in alternation with 2 beaten eggs and the saffron dissolved in vodka. Once mixture comes together in a soft dough, stir or knead well to combine and develop the dough. Allow to rise for 1-1.5 hours, then deflate and knead several times on a floured surface. The dough should be smooth, soft, and elastic. Divide dough into small handsful and roll to make snakes; then curl top end toward left and bottom end toward right to form a backward S. Decorate with raisins at either end of the curl and allow to rise again, covered, for an hour. Meanwhile, warm oven to 375, and when rolls have doubled in size, brush them with egg whites and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.

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