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December 13


Saint of the day:
Saint Lucy

Patron Saint of The blind & Syracuse, Italy 

Saint Lucy's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucia (Sweden) 

Saint Lucy’s Story

Lucy's history has been lost and all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life during the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends began to crop up. The one that has passed the test of time tells the story of a young Christian woman who vowed to live her life in service of Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan and Lucy knew her mother could not be swayed by a young girl's vow, so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was the better partner for life.

After several prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, Lucy saw the saint in a dream. St. Agatha told Lucy her mother's illness would be cured through faith, which Lucy used to persuade her mother to give the dowry money to the poor and allow her to commit her life to God.

While Lucy and her mother were grateful to God, the rejected bridegroom was deeply angered and betrayed Lucy's faith to the governor Paschasius. The governor attempted to force her into defilement at a brothel, but the guards who came to take her away were unable to move her, even after hitching her to a team of oxen.

The guards heaped bundles of wood around her but it wouldn't burn so they finally resorted to their swords, and Lucy met her death.

Though details of her life remain unknown, it is widely known that during her lifetime Christians were persecuted for their faith. They were forced to endure horrific torture and often met painful ends during Diocletian's reign. Though the details surrounding her death remain only as legends, it is all modern-day Christians can rely on.

Lucy's legend did not end with her death. According to later accounts, Lucy warned Paschasius he would be punished. When the governor heard this he ordered the guards to gouge out her eyes; however, in another telling, it was Lucy who removed her eyes in an attempt to discourage a persistent suitor who greatly admired them. When her body was being prepared for burial, they discovered her eyes had been restored.

Lucy, whose name can mean "light" or "lucid," is the patron saint of the blind. She is often seen with the emblem of eyes on a cup or plate. In paintings, she is often depicted with a golden plate holding her eyes and often holds a palm branch, which is a symbol of victory over evil. 
Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God. She is the patroness of eyesight.




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Where to go Italy or Sweden....

In Italy 

In Sweden 



Saint Lucy (d. 304, Syracuse, Sicily) (Relics: Syracuse, Sicily; Venice, Italy)

Several different traditions account for the translation of Saint Lucy’s remains. The first claims that the Duke of Spoleto, Faroald II, transferred her remains to a small city in central Italy. From here they were taken to Metz, France by Otto I in 972 AD. This tradition then seems to end here as the whereabouts of these relics are unknown today. A separate tradition claims that the Byzantine General, Giorgio Maniace, transferred the relics in 1038 AD from Syracuse to Constantinople. With the fall of Constantinople in 1204 these relics were then transferred to Venice, Italy. They remained here throughout the following centuries occasionally being transferred to different churches within the city. In 1860 they were brought to their present location within the parish church of San Geremia. Since this final transfer, however, her remains have been desecrated on two separate occasions. The most recent occurred in November of 1981 when two individuals stole the body of Saint Lucy from this church. Gratefully one month later her body was returned to this church on her feast day.


San Geremia (Saint Jeremiah)

Sestiere Cannaregio 290

30131 Venice, Italy

*The body of St Lucy is enshrined in this church on the side opposite the church entrance.
Her remains rest within a beautiful glass-sided urn set within a golden casket.


Duomo di Siracusa (Cathedral of Syracuse)

Piazza Duomo 5

96100 Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

*In 1988 Syracuse received the left humerus bone of St Lucy from the Patriarch of Venice, Marco Cè. This relic now rests within a silver reliquary placed within the second altar on the right side of the nave of this church. A separate reliquary exposed only on special feasts contains two additional fragments from the left arm of St Lucy.

*Also said to be preserved at this church are the robe, the veil, and the little shoes of the saint.

*Finally, each year on December 13th and also on the first Sunday in May a statue of St Lucy is carried with much festivity through the streets of Syracuse. Within the chest of this statue, which was created by Pietro Rizzo in 1599, are three bone fragments from her ribs.

Basilica di Santa Lucia al Sepolcro

(Basilica of Saint Lucy at the Tomb)

Via Luigi Bignami 1

96100 Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

*This church marks the spot where St Lucy was martyred.

*Within the octagonal baptistery adjacent to this church is the grave where St Lucy was originally buried.
Under the altar is a beautiful marble statue depicting the saint.


San Geremia Church
Saint Lucia Relics


Art & Decor:

Saint Lucy Art by Myriam Powell

Traditions of the day: making Swedish Saint Lucy Rolls & Bread
Decorate with Food!




Saint Lucia's Day is celebrated in Italy with a feast held on December 13. The holiday is important all throughout the nation, especially in northern Italy and Sicily. According to tradition in the northern part of the country, Saint Lucy visits the homes in the area on December 13, riding a donkey and leaving behind gifts for all of the good children. Children will write letters to Lucy a week before the holiday to let her know what gifts they would like to receive and to inform her of how obedient they have been throughout the year. On the night of December 12, families prepare their homes for the arrival of Saint Lucy by leaving refreshments as well as a bucket of water and hay for her donkey.

In Sicily, the celebrations are more religious-themed, with a feast that is held without gifts and a ceremony held on December 12 in the cathedral where the silver statue of Lucia (who is the patron of the city) is relocated from the chapel to the high altar. On the 13th, the statue is carried by a procession of 60 men throughout the city, and this procession lasts from 3:30 p.m. until 10 that night.


In Sweden, Saint Lucia's Day, on December 13th,  is celebrated with a special feast known as the Luciadagen. In this time-honored tradition, the oldest female in each family wears a white dress with a crimson sash and stockings. She is crowned with a wreath and adorned with white candles. At dawn, the girl is to wake up all the members of the family by serving coffee and Lussekatter (saffron buns) or another type of sweet bread.



Sing her Song!
Christmas Songs - Santa Lucia Sweden



Listen to Stories
Christmas - Santa Lucia Sweden




St. Lucia Buns: Swedish Saffron Christmas Bread 

Source: Adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
Yield: 24 buns


  • 2 packages active dry yeast

  • 1/2 cup warm water, 110F to 115F

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs, room temperature

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1 egg

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • Swedish pearl sugar


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast in the warm water; stir gently and briefly with a fork. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar; stir again. Let mixture stand until the yeast foams, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, butter, cream, milk, saffron, salt and eggs. Fit mixer with the paddle attachment and beat well on medium-low speed until combined. Remove paddle attachment from mixer and fit with the dough hook. Add flour 1 cup at a time mixing well with each addition to keep the dough smooth and satiny. You may not need to use all of the flour.

  2. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

  3. Preheat oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 24 even pieces (about 2-inches square). Roll each square into a long rope, about 12-inches long. Curl each end of a rope in opposite directions, creating an "S" shape (or a backward "S" shape). Lift the bun onto the parchment; repeat curling with remaining dough ropes until there are 12 per baking sheet.

  5. For the glaze, beat the egg in a condiment cup and stir in the milk. Brush each bun with the glaze then sprinkle over pearl sugar.  Place sheets in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes

  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.

Cook's notes:
I use a stand mixer with a dough hook to make this bread, this helps so it requires no intensive kneading. 
You may not have to use all the flour. I used a little less than 4 cups. I stopped adding flour when the dough started pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl (while beaten with the dough hook).
I place the sheets of buns some where warm &  draft free. The warmth encourages the dough to raise.

St. Lucia Buns

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 4 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 large egg white (reserved from dough) mixed with

  • 1 tablespoon cold water

  • coarse pearl sugar, optional

  • golden raisins, optional


  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat (or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave), heat the milk and saffron to a simmer; remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Set the mixture aside to allow the butter to melt and cool to lukewarm, 30 to 35 minutes. You can reduce the milk’s cooling time by about 10 minutes by refrigerating it.

  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, flours, salt and sugar.

  3. Separate one of the eggs, and set the white aside; you’ll use it later.

  4. Pour the lukewarm milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients.

  5. Add the 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, and the vanilla. Mix to combine, then knead for about 7 minutes by mixer, or 10 minutes by hand, till the dough is smooth and supple.

  6. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measuring cup, cover it, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it’s quite puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.

  7. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. A scale makes this job easy; each piece will weigh about 92g, or 3 1/4 ounces.

  8. Shape the pieces of dough into rough logs, and let them rest, covered, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten a chance to relax.

  9. Roll each log into a 15″ to 18″ rope. They’ll shrink once you stop rolling; that’s OK.

  10. Shape each rope into an “S” shape. Tuck a golden raisin into the center of each of the two side-by-side coils, if desired.

  11. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or so between them. Cover them, and let them rise for about 30 minutes, till they’re noticeably puffy, but definitely not doubled. While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

  12. Brush each bun with some of the egg white/water glaze. Sprinkle with coarse white Swedish pearl sugar, if desired.

  13. Bake the buns until they’re golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. If you’ve used raisins, tent them with foil for the final 3 minutes, to prevent the raisins from burning.

  14. Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

       Yield: 12 large buns


Braided St. Lucia Bread


  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 2 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 T. sugar

  • 6 T. butter, cut in pieces

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • 1 T. finely grated orange rind

  • 1 tsp cardamom

  • 1 t. salt

  • 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups flour

Glaze and garnish:

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

  • 2-4 T. orange juice

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries



  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl. Add the yeast and 1 T. of the sugar and let it sit for 5 min.

  2. Melt the butter in the remaining milk. Add butter/milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup sugar, orange rind, and salt.

  3. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be gathered into a ball.

  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 min., adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and doesn't stick to your hands.

  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it once to coat it.

  6. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

  7. Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts.

  8. Roll each part into a 30-inch rope and braid the ropes together.

  9. Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, pinch together the ends to form a circle and let it rise until doubled in size, about 45 min.

  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min., or until golden brown, then let cool on a wire rack about 30 min.

For the glaze

  1. stir together the confectioner's sugar and orange juice until smooth.

  2. Drizzle over the bread, then garnish with cranberries.

  3. Add candles for "wreath."

Swedish Meatballs


  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (3 slices)

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1/4 cup minced onion

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • Gravy (for a whole batch; reduce amounts if cooking fewer meatballs)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment until very smooth. Alternatively, mix by hand until smooth.

  2. Form into about 40 1-inch balls and arrange on waxed paper-lined baking tray. Chill 30 minutes. (Or freeze until solid, then pack into airtight containers to save for another meal. Do not thaw before cooking; add an extra 5-10 minutes cook time.)

  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high in a large skillet and fry half the meatballs, turning frequently, until browned. They should not be cooked through at this point. Remove.

  4. Add remaining butter and cook rest of meatballs the same way. Remove.

  5. Add flour to skillet and whisk to cook until toasted.

  6. Whisk in stock until smooth.

  7. Add meatballs back to skillet and stir gently to coat in gravy. Simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened and meatballs are cooked through.

  8. Turn heat to low and gently stir in cream.

  9. Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.

Mulled Wine

Perfect mulled wine recipe with simple 7 ingredients
Spice up your holiday with this warm & cozy winter drink.

Yields: 5 Servings


  • 1 orange

  • 10 whole cloves

  • 1 cup (240ml) orange juice

  • ½ cup (100gr) sugar

  • ½ cup cranberries (fresh or frozen), optional

  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 bottle (750ml) dry red wine
    (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, any full to medium
    bodied red wine will do.)



  1. Cut the orange in half, and then quarter one half. Push 2-3 cloves into the outer skin of quartered oranges, as pictured above. Peel a few strips of orange peel from the other half of the orange for garnish.

  2. In a large pot, combine orange juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange quarters with cloves and cranberries.

  3. Turn the heat to medium high and slowly heat the mixture, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.

  4. Once sugar is dissolved completely, bring it to a boil and cook until it thickened and reduced by almost half, about 15-20 minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to low and pour in wine.

  6. Simmer until wine is heated through. Don’t boil, or alcohol will evaporate.

  7. You can strain the wine and pour into a slow cooker to keep it warm. 

  8. Garnish with orange peel and serve warm.

Santa Lucia Martini


  • ​1 oz cointreau

  • 1 oz Coconut Rum

  • 1 ounce Chambord Liqueur

  • 0.50 oz vodka

  • 2 oz cranberry juice

  • 2 oz pineapple juice

  • 2 TBSP blackberry seedless preserves

  • sugar for the rim (optional) 

  • 1 orange peel for decoration

  • 1 lemon


  1. Cut a segment out the lemon and run it round the rim of your glass.

    Pour a mound of sugar onto a plate and lay the glass sideways into it, spinning slowy to coat.

  2. Add the blackberry seedless preserves, cointreau, rum, & vodka,

    into the cocktail mixer followed by the cranberry & pineapple juice and a small handful of ice.

  3. Shake for 20-30 seconds and then pour into the glass.

  4. Add some orange peel for decoration, serve and enjoy!

    **Add olives over your drink to look like St Lucy eyes!!

Vaniljkakor (Swedish Vanilla Cookies)
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen


  • 1cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 2⁄3cup powdered sugar

  • 1large egg yolk

  • 1tablespoon good vanilla

  • 2 1⁄4cups sifted flour

  • 1⁄3cup raspberry jam (or any jam)

  • powdered sugar


  1. Cream butter and sugar well.

  2. Gradually add sugar, and cream until light and fluffy.

  3. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla and flour, blend thoroughly.

  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on greased cookie sheet.

  5. Make a nice indentation in top of each cookie,
    I use the end (the handle end)of a wooden spoon for this.

  6. Put a little bit of jelly or jam into each indentation.

  7. Bake in 350º oven for at least 15 minutes or til pale golden yellow.

  8. Cool, then sift powdered sugar over them.





A fun craft!
Make red and white felt christmas ornaments

Remember Safety First...
Use a real crown, a paper crown, or even a felt crown 

How to Make a Santa Lucia Wreath / Crown with Candles

Materials you will need:

  • A wreath base (see below for options)

  • Green florist's wire or garden wire

  • Needlenose pliers

  • Fresh evergreen clippings

  • Fresh red berry bush sprigs (such as lingonberry)

  • 4-8 white taper candles, preferably dripless

Choose a base

Start by measuring the wearer's head.

Then, either create or purchase a base that will fit comfortably and securely. I used a plain, pre-made grapevine wreath, but you could use any number of things for this: a wire wreath base, an old wire hanger, a styrofoam wreath base, or an old Christmas wreath you're not using anymore.

Notch the candles

Using a nail, a knife, or any other sharp object, create a horizontal notch on two sides of each candle about an inch from the bottom. This helps secure the candle to the wreath as you wrap the wire around. You can somewhat see the notch I made in this close-up:


Attach the candles

I found it easiest to attach the candles, then arrange the greens around them to hide the wire. However, if you prefer to add greens first, then nestle the candles in, feel free.

Place each candle on a somewhat flat part of the wreath, preferably somewhat inset in the base, if possible.

Cut two 1-foot sections of wire, weave them into the base, then wrap them around the base of the candle to firmly secure it in place. It can be seriously helpful to have an assistant hold the candle while you wrap! Make sure that when the candle is secured, it is perfectly straight and upright.

Continue until all the candles are secured in place. I was only able to fit four onto my wreath (okay, I'll be honest, I only had the patience for four….) but traditionally, there are 6-8 candles.

Weave in the greens and berries

Weave the evergreen cuttings into the wreath base, attaching with wire if necessary to make them secure. Make sure to tuck in or snip off any ends that might poke the wearer's head.

Once the greens are fully and firmly in place, set the red berry sprigs in place. As you can tell from the photos, we didn't have any red berries, so we skipped it. In Sweden, lingonberry cuttings are used, but any red berry will do. It's just for the festive burst of color.

Light the candles and celebrate!

Light the candles, then place on the wearer's head while you sing carols and eat sweet Santa Lucia buns – or at least just snap a few photos!

And depending on the freshness of your cuttings, you'll likely need to use the Santa Lucia crown within a day or two or the greens may become dry and droopy. If you are wanting one that will last a bit longer, consider finding some realistic-looking fake greens. If it will keep your sanity, it's totally legit.


Read Her Story



Remember to always
let your light shine bright
even during the darkest of times

lucy 3.jpg

Saint Lucy,
you did not hide your light under a basket,
but let it shine for the whole world,
for all the centuries to see.
We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation -- every corner of our day.



After Saint Lucy's Day:

Winter Embertide:

the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of St. Lucy

Ember Days

The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quattuor anni tempora (the "four seasons of the year"),

or formerly as the jejunia quattuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").

The four quarterly periods during which the ember days fall are called the embertides.

The term Ember days refers to three days set apart for fasting, abstinence, and prayer during each of the four seasons of the year. 

The purpose of their introduction was

  • to thank God for the gifts of nature,

  • to teach men to make use of them in moderation,

  • and to assist the needy or the poor.

During these “mini Lents” one is 

  • to pray

  • to fast and 

  • to thank God  

They follow the four seasons of the year

with the beauty and uniqueness of each particular season.  

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