The 13th December marks the celebration of the 'return of the light' in Sweden. This involves ladies dressing in white gowns, holding candles and singing the traditional Santa Lucia song. The one lady chosen to be Lucia herself, wears a red sash and a crown of candles in her hair in addition to the white gown and gets to lead the procession.
Usually this ceremony happens in most schools and/or churches and is one that I have always liked (any excuse to dress up). Indeed, I think we still have a small gown and plastic wreath with electric candles which I used to wear when I was little - real candles are a bit hardcore, as I can only imagine that picking wax out of your hair afterward cannot be fun.
Anyway, to the most interesting part - the baking! Lussekatter (saffron buns) are very traditional and below is the most commonly shaped version which gets handed out after the Lucia ceremony.
They weren't as hard to make as I remember, so perhaps I am getting more patient with the years. You do need to leave them to rise twice for 30 mins each, but it's rather satisfying seeing the little backwards 'S's slowly becoming more and more bold.
As with most of my Swedish cooking, the recipe comes from the good old Rutiga Kokboken. I got this from a friend at my graduation in Sweden and it became indispensable pretty much straight away. It tells you how to cook *anything*, and has something of a cult following. I am relying on it for next week when I need to tackle my first vat of rice pudding ever..gulp.