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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

I have said it before and I say it again…

Frozen puff pastry is a life saver.

I am amazed how fast one can just make Danishes, looking and tasting as if they came from the best bakery.

You know by now how I just love to cook and bake easy and simple things. This is one of those things up on the list of favorite fast baked goods.

We had an unannounced visit of friends this past weekend. Since I don’t keep cookies in the house at all, there is nothing to give our guests unless I bake it. Well, during the holidays I do, but that is about it. I bake “for each occasion”.

So, once again, I was saved by my good friend, the frozen puff pastry.

In Sweden we call a cup of tea or coffee at a break during mid morning or mid afternoon, for FIKA (Sorry all you Italians..). It always contains a sweet roll or/and cakes/cookies. Sometimes a small sandwich. We love it. I actually laugh at my friends that comes over for a visit from Sweden, how they start to look around the house at 3pm on the dot. Trying to locate the goodies hidden somewhere in the kitchen. Looking at this from the “outside” it is a little funny, how Swedes stay so slim. Because there really is a break of the day, twice if allowed, to eat baked goods like this.

And at most workplaces there is a “fika room”. Meaning a break room where you go and drink your coffee and eat your baked goods. Of course it also serves as a lunchroom, but it actually is more often just plain and simple called the fika room. By law you are allowed a fika break for 15 minutes twice a day. Perhaps I should tell my boss here in the states? It really is a good idea.

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Superfast Danishes.

Makes 6-8 (depending on how big you decide to make them).

6-8 tbsp. of jam, your favorite kind. I use raspberry jam.

6-8 tbsp. of thick vanilla sauce or vanilla pudding (optional).

1 egg, whisked.

Powdered sugar for decoration.

Directions:

If you have time, defrost the puff pastry in the fridge over nigh, if not, just defrost on the kitchen counter or if you really are in a hurry, carefully defrost in the microwave.

Unfold the dough and cut it into 6-8 squares (or into preferred size).

Put a tbsp. of jam in the center of the square and spread it out slightly.

Grab and lift each corner and punch it down in the center of the danish. It becomes a little pouch.

Place it on a lined baking sheet. Brush them with the egg.

Bake in a 450F (225C) degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool down slightly. Dust with powdered sugar.

Ready to serve.

 

You could experiment with different fillings. Another really delicious filling is almond paste. Very traditional as well. You can “loosen it up” a little bit by mixing it with a dab of butter.

You can also make them into different shapes. They don’t have to be “closed”. You could lift and push down two opposite corners and leave two flat. If you do that version, please the filling on the flat part of the dough, close to the center. One kind on each side. This is a very good and probably the most traditional Danish.

 

I hope you will bake some danishes now. Unfortunately they are a hot commodity and will not last long.

Enjoy!!!

 

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Happy 4th of July!!!

Time do bring out all the red/white/blue, stars and stripes you can find in the house. No need to be modest. Go big for this holiday!

This is of course an American celebration, but I know that Americans abroad celebrate it just as much as a Swede living here in the States ( I wonder who I am thinking of…) would celebrate Swedish events and holidays.

We are making it simple for this holiday. Too much to do, too little time. Don’t I say that all the time?? Perhaps I am a very stressed individual since I always want to cook simple food. Who knows.

My priority this weekend is to relax, spend time with family and friends. Just enjoy myself. We will go to the beach, go to my mother-in-law’s for Curry Goat, BBQ in the garden, so many different things are going on for these 4 days… If I am really lucky, there will also be some time left over for me to have a date with a good book. I haven’t read a book in a very long time. What a shame.

So, we are doing easy stuff for the 4th. Basic BBQ food like , marinated chicken & pork tenderloin, burgers & hotdogs. Corn & salsa.

I will make my Mini Pies filled with strawberries, blueberries and apples. Basic desserts. A little bit of “comfort” food desserts. Well known and familiar but perhaps with a little twist at times.

It is very nice to make a whole bunch of small mini pies instead of making just one big one. This way you can pick and choose what you want.

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Mini Fruit & Berry Pies.

The rule is to use any fruit or berries of your choice. Besides that, there are no rules.

There are no real recipes for this. Since I like to be able to taste the actual produce, I keep it as fresh as possible.

So just make a pie crust or even buy ready made pie crust. For these ones, I use a basic pie crust.

I choose little nice looking ramekins. Since it is 4th of July, I used my star shaped ones.

Add the rolled out pie crust to the ramekins. Well pressed down into the bottom edges.

Add the fruit or berries. Keep them separate or mix them together.

Different combinations;

Blueberries– Use a splash of your favorite liquor.

Strawberries– Add finely chopped candied ginger.

Apples– Add your favorite liquor and some ground cinnamon. (And perhaps a little granulated sugar if you need for it to be a little sweeter).

Peaches– Toasted nuts and a pinch of brown sugar.

These are just some suggestions, you can really combine anything you like.

If you use hard fruits like apples, cut them finer and fry them in a skillet for about 15 minutes or so until soft. Add a little water so that they get some help from the water to soften up. Keep a lid on so that they really cook down faster.

Directions;

When you have added the pie crust to the ramekins pack down the filling well. Cut little stripes of the crust and add about 3 stripes per pie.

Brush some egg wash onto the crust and sprinkle some granulate sugar on top of it.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.

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Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

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You can serve some fresh berries on the side and also whip up some heavy cream spiked with some of your favorite liquor.

Add about 2-3 tbsp. per cup of heavy cream. Fold in some candied ginger.

Enjoy!!!

And again, have a great and happy 4th of July!!!

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There are so many ways to make a pizza. I prefer to make a more “grown up” version but the family still just wants to have plain cheese or cheese and pepperoni. What to do?? I end up making either “shared” pizzas (half & half) or individual ones. As you might know if you have been following my blog, my husband can’t stand when I make a big pepperoni pizza and make a 1/4 of it a banana curry pizza (my favorite) since he might get a little curry on one of his “sides”…

But I get it. If you like something you like something. And people shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. So, as you might suspect, I eat these myself. Good, more for me.

Lately I have been working on a food project and have had to come up with lot’s of different “comfort foods” that would work in the US. This is one of the dishes I contributed to the project. It is a challenge when you really would like to make it healthier and more “green” (as in more herbs & vegetables) but still make it the same way it always was made. Since I was not brought up on the typical fast food & comfort foods I flunk all the time. I manage to squeeze in the “wrong” ingredients.

“One” is not supposed to add curry (or any other crazy spices or herbs), fruits or berries to a pizza- A pizza should only have tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni  on it!” my little husband says….

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Orange Walnut Goat cheese Pizza.

Pizza dough.

4-5 small or 2 big yellow onions.

1-2 tbsp. butter.

1 c. goat cheese (the amount is not that important. One package of whatever size you find in the store is fine).

1 orange (grated & squeezed).

1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts.

Sprouts or micro greens for decoration.

1/2-1 tsp. crushed pepper.

Salt to taste.

Directions;

Slice all the onions finely, length wise (cut in half then cut length wise not across).

Fry in a skillet with the butter on medium low heat until caramelized (dark and translucent). This will take some time. You need to be watching the onions since they might burn the second you look away. When nicely caramelized, set aside to cool down.

Roll out the pizza dough into required size (one large round or smaller individual ones).

In a bowl, add goat cheese, orange zest, a splash of the squeezed orange juice,half of the crushed pepper and the crushed walnuts.

Mix well. Taste and see if you need to add more juice, any salt or more pepper.

Spread out all the caremelized onions evenly onto the pizza dough. Top with little dollops of the goat cheese. Bake in a 450-500 F degree (225-250 C ) oven  for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

When ready, add the micro greens or sprouts, they makes it fresh and “crispy”.

Enjoy!!

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Basic Pizza dough.

3 – 3 1/2 c. flour.
1 tsp. salt.
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of honey or sugar (the honey/sugar is used to help activate the yeast).
1 package dry yeast (1/2 oz) or 1 package ( 1 1/2 oz) fresh yeast .
1 cup warm water (warm not hot since it would ‘kill” the yeast).
Directions;
Combine honey/sugar, water and yeast into a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast has dissolved).
Use a wooden spoon. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour yeast mixture and oil into well and stir in dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.
If dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and firm.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled or 45 minutes to an hour.
* If you would like, it is smart to make a couple of batches of pizza dough at the same time and freeze it. If you use frozen dough, take it out the night or two nights before and let it de-frost in the fridge. This way the dough doesn’t become rubbery but nice and “giving”.

 

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This sunday is the American Mother’s day. In Sweden it is not until the last sunday of May.

At mother’s day, the lilacs are usually in full bloom at home. One of my favorite flowers. At my old country house we had a whole path way lined with Lilac trees and at the very end of the property, there was this one large white Lilac tree. It will always stay in my memory and I think I need to always have at least one little tree planted somewhere.

The same way that I love lilacs I also love Violets and Lily of the Valley. Beautiful flowers with strong wonderful scents.

Some of the first plants I planted in our current garden were a few Lilac trees. It took a while for them to bloom but this year they are absolutely fantastic. My dad came for a visit last year and was trimming all the trees. I wish I could have said it was my love and care but I know better. It was due to my dads green fingers that they are giving me the best spring experience ever.

I transplanted some violets from my old house. They are now taking over. Spreading like crazy. This year I FINALLY made Candied Violets.

It happens that I would like to use some Candied Violets. And every time I go on a big hunt for the, Every time I have come home empty-handed. It is really easy to make so why haven’t I made them before??? Beats me… I used to make candied fruits when I was younger. It is fun and the result is great. You just need to be a little detail oriented and have good tolerance the day you make them. This because the egg whites and all the sugar gets very sticky. Also note that since the Violets need to dry you have to make them ahead of time.

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Apple Cupcakes with Candied Violets.

Makes about 8-10 cupcakes.

1 stick of butter (125 gr.) melted.

1 c. of granulated sugar.

1 1/2 c. of flour.

2 tsp. baking powder.

2 eggs, whisked.

1 c. apple juice or apple cider.

For decoration;

Candied Violets or grated chocolate.

Whipped Heavy cream or your favorite kind of frosting.

Directions;

Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the butter. Add the flour and baking powder into a sieve. Sift into the bowl of butter and sugar and mix carefully. Add the eggs and pour in the apple juice. Again, mix carefully.

Pour into muffin pans.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool down. Decorate with the frosting or whipped cream. Finish off with the Candied Violets or some grated chocolate.

Enjoy!

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Candied Violets.

Egg white.

Very fine granulated sugar (I make it very fine by using my mortar and pestle.

Pick the flowers with a little bit of the steam still on it.

Spray gently with a water bottle. Let dry on some paper towel.

Brush some egg white on both sides of the Violets.

Sprinkle on the sugar.

Let dry on a piece of wax paper for at least 24 hours.

Store in an airtight container in one layer.

It takes some time but it is so much fun to have your own home made Candied Violets. Try it. You will be so happy to have them.

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The hunt for a “Semla” is on. I actually was able to buy some in NY last year. There is a Swedish cafe in the city and they had baked some “Semla’s” around fat Tuesday.

A “Semla” is really just a wheat bun with cardamom and an almond paste filling with whipped cream. But, for some reason it is a slam dunk with the Swedish population. It used to be available only around fat Tuesday but now they start selling them right after christmas. I used to have my old design-studio right around the corner from this fantastic bakery. One year when I came home to Sweden, I actually pre-ordered some “Semla’s” for my family and I. They would make special orders if you bought a big enough order. And we did. Some of my American friends can’t understand the fascination with this somewhat plain wheat-bun over decorated with whipped cream. And besides that, they have an issue with eating them without getting powered sugar all over themselves. Well, I will tell you a secret, most Swedes also end up with powdered sugar on their noses. One has to have a technique to eat them. Take off the lid and use it to scoop up some cream. After that you dive into the bun.

Some people eat them in a bowl with hot milk poured around the “Semla”, making it a little soggy. It is called a “hot wall”. I don’t like soggy food so I never go to that much trouble to eat it. But my mom loves it this way.

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“Semlor”.

Makes 20 big or 40 mini Semlor.

Buns;

1 package of fresh yeast (or 1 package of dry yeast. Activate as description on package).

6 1/3 c. flour.

6 oz. (175 gr.) butter.

2 c. whole milk (1-2% works as well).

3/4 c. granulated sugar.

2 tsp. ground cardamom.

1 tsp. salt.

Filling;

7 oz. almond paste.

3 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream.

Top with powdered sugar.

Directions;

Melt the butter on the stove, add the milk. Warm until finger warm. (Not hot, it would “kill” the yeast.).

Crumble the yeast up into a bowl. Add the ground cardamom. If you are using dried yeast, follow the directions on the package to dissolve and activate it.

Pour the milk and butter mixture over the yeast.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add little at a time to the wet ingredients. Knead the dough until nice and smooth. 

If you have a food processor use that. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes.

Let the dough rise under a kitchen towel in a bowl for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

When done, put dough on a lightly floured counter. Divide into approximately 20 pieces (if big) or 40 (if you are making mini S).

Roll the pieces into round buns. Add to a lined cookie sheet. Let rise again. Be sure they double in size.

Some people brush the buns with an egg wash. It works just as well without.

Bake in a 450F  (225C) oven. Place them in the lower part. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool down on a rack. When totally cool, cut of a little “lid” of each bun. “Dig” out a little of the bun with a fork and put into a bowl. Shred the almond paste. Add to the bowl together with a few tablespoons of heavy cream (un whipped). Mix well.

Evenly divide all the almond paste into all the buns. Whip the heavy cream. Add to the buns. Use a pastry bag so that it is easier (& prettier) to distribute the whipped cream.

Add the “lid” back onto the bun. Just before serving, sprinkle over some powdered sugar.

Just beware…. One is never enough….

Enjoy!!!

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♩♫♩♩”Ja må de leva, ja må de leva, ja må de leva uti hundrade år……”♩♫♩♩

There are lot’s of birthdays to celebrate right now. My husband is turning….well he is having a birthday. And another very important one is that my blog is turning 1 year!! I can’t believe it already has been a year since I started blogging. It has been so much fun. I really enjoy sharing my favorite recipes with all of you and also come up with some new ones. Your feedback is great. And the support I have gotten… Thank you so much. It is so exciting every time one more person is “following” me and my blog. It is so inspirational and it really keeps me going. I just love it.

Since we are having all these important birthdays, let’s just enjoy them with the best birthday cake there is. Princess cake.

Princess cake is my absolute favorite cake. It is probably one of the most common cakes at home (if you don’t count the regular strawberry cake of course). It is served for any occasion or holiday. Luckily it is also my husbands favorite. It is a light (not light as in low calorie…sorry. Light as in fluffy and airy.) The only hard part is to roll out the marzipan “lid” very thinly. You can buy already made marzipan in many specialized grocery stores (you just add some food coloring). If you can’t find that, just do your own. When I was younger there really was just one version. A pink cake with a pink rose on top. Now you have them in pink, green and white… Perhaps even more colors. The filling can vary slightly but it ( in my opinion) should have a raspberry jam on the bottom layer, vanilla creme on the second layer and whipped cream for the top layer under the marzipan “lid”. Ok, enough of this teasing…. I better just cut to the chase and give you the recipe.

Here is the world-famous Princess cake.

Happy birthday Älskling and happy birthday to my blog. “And many more….”

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Princess cake.

Serves 10-12.

The cake;

4 eggs

1 c. granulated sugar.

1/2 c. flour.

1/2 c. potato flour (potato starch).

2 tsp. baking powder.

(If you rather use your favorite sponge cake recipe that is ok to use for this cake.)

Marzipan “lid”:

About 4 oz. of marzipan.

Food coloring of your choice.

Powdered sugar.

Filling:

1 cup vanilla cream or vanilla pudding.

1/2 – 1 c. raspberry jam.

1 1/2 c. whipped cream.

Directions;

Butter a spring cake-pan (10-12″) and add a little flour that you shake around in the pan, making sure all of the pan is well buttered and covered in flour. This is instead of breading with bread crumbs.

Whip sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients with sugar & butter. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake in a 350F (175C) degree oven for about 40 minutes. Place the cake in the lower parts of the oven. When done take the cake out of the pan and let cool completely.

Mix the marzipan and food coloring. Roll it out until very thin (and as perfectly round as you can). Roll it out on a piece of wax-paper so that it doesn’t stick as easily.

Cut the cake into three layers with the top layer being the thinnest one. Add the raspberry jam onto the first layer. Make sure the jam reaches all the way out to the very edge (this applies to all different fillings and layers).

Place the second layer on top of the first. Add the vanilla cream/pudding. Make it a little thick so it is well saturated into the cake. Add the third layer. Whip the heavy cream. Spread on the cream. Make sure it is a nice and thick layer.

Add the thinly rolled out marzipan “lid”. Make sure it is well centered.

Straighten out any fold at the very bottom of the lid. It is ok to have a few folds. It makes it look home-made. Cut off any unevenness from the bottom of the marzipan.

If you would like to, make a little flower out of any left over marzipan. Roll out a little piece and place a rose-leaf onto it, pressing it down to make an imprint. Cut around with a small knife (sprinkle with some cake glitter or light food safe coloring/powder- Note that it is optional).

Sprinkle over some powdered sugar all over the cake “free hand”with a sieve or use a stencil for a pretty pattern.

Enjoy!!!

 

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Press some rose leaves or any other kind of leaf into some marzipan. Cut around the leaf.

Press some rose leaves or any other kind of leaf into some marzipan. Cut around the leaf.

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Marzipan flowers and leaves are easy to make.

Roll little balls/marbles of the marzipan. Press them flat with your fingers. Shape into leaves. Put them together into a flower shape. Cut off the bottom part that becomes a little “clumpy” when you add all the leaves together.

For the leaves I have just flattened out some of the marzipan and then pressed down some rose leaves to create an imprint. Cut around the leaf and take off access marzipan.

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As a final touch you can brush them slightly with some cake glitter or coloring. Usually these flowers are colored by food coloring, but I think they are really pretty in their “natural” color.

Enjoy!!

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Lucia is celebrated on the 13th of December.

Lucia is the maiden of light. She carries candles in her hair and she brings her Lucia maidens, star boys, little santa’s, ginger bread boys and girls with her. They sing traditional christmas songs.

In schools and at work places everybody has a little Lucia celebration. If you are lucky, a Lucia cortege would appear, but if not, people would just gather and drink glögg and eat saffron buns and ginger snaps.

Lucia is mostly celebrated in the morning. It has also become a tradition to scare the living daylight out of the Nobel price winners who would still be in Sweden (after the Nobel Price celebration on the 10th of december). A Lucia cortege would appear at their hotel rooms around 7 in the morning.

A while before December 13th, there are competitions all throughout the country, to find “this years” Lucia. For some people, this is a dead serious competition.

For many of us living abroad, this is a fun day. We try to have little “get togethers” with the traditional goodies. Here in New York, there is a big celebration on the saturday closest to Lucia. My family and I have it as a tradition to always attend. It kick starts the christmas feeling.

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The Lucia celebration in New York…

Since the candles are real, there are buckets of water prepared just in case of a needed “quick dip” in some cold water.

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There are always a bunch of little kids in the audience who also wants to be the Lucia. Boys and girls actually. That is ok, they just sit in their benches and sing a long. Really cute.

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I always make big gingersnaps with holes for some pretty ribbons. Either I hang them on the wall or if they are smaller, they go on the christmas tree. I sometimes also make individual gingersnaps and put my guest’s name on them. They would then serve as “placement cards” for the dinner table.

It is a great thing to involve your kids in the gingersnap making & baking.

It is a great thing to involve your kids in the gingersnap making & baking.

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Ginger snaps;

Makes about 150 regular sized gingersnaps.

4 1/4 c. flour.

1 1/3 c. granulated sugar.

1/2 c. water.

1/4 c. light syrup (or molasses).

1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon.

1/2 tbsp. ground dried ginger.

1/2 tbsp.  ground cloves.

1/2 tbsp. ground cardamom (optional).

7 oz. of butter, cut into smaller cubes (a little less than 2 sticks, or 200 gr.)

2 tbsp. good cognac (optional).

2 tsp. baking soda.

1 egg (optional – not all traditional recipes includes an egg, but it is easier for the dough to “hold up” with an egg. I don’t use it though).

Directions;

Let sugar, water and the spices come to a boil. Let cool down a little bit. Add the butter (and cognac).Mix the dough firmly. Add the flour mixed with the baking soda (add the egg) (save a little bit of the flour for rolling out the dough). Work the dough well. Let the dough sit in the fridge over night.

Take out the dough an hour before baking. Roll it out, little at a time. Be careful with adding too much flour while rolling the dough out. Too much flour makes the gingersnaps break/crack. Use cookie cutters for any shape you prefer. Roll the dough very thin. This way the cookies gets very light and crisp. Add cut out cookies to parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake in a 350F (about 175-180) oven. It would take about 7 minutes or until lightly starting to brown. Keep an eye on the cookies while baking. They burn very easily.

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For Christmas we have these fantastic candles called “branch candles”. They are made by hand and really beautiful. My mom used to save every (and I mean EVERY) little last stump of candle just so that she could make candles at home, once a year.

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The Lucia History;

In the old days (when we used the “old calendar”) it was thought that the darkest & longest day of the year was on the 13th of december. It is actually the 21st or the 22nd of december, but we still celebrate it on the 13th.

Lucia is believed to come from a saint from Siracusa in Sicily (Italy), the saint of light. It turns out to have very little to do with her even tough it fits the description with our Lucia bringing light into our houses. Instead it has old pageant traditions. It was believed, that during this longest and darkest day of the year, there were bad spirits and creatures out and about, luring in the woods and if you were not careful, they would also come into your house. To scare them away, one would have a “vaka” a wake all night before the 13th.

People would have parties that would include lot’s of drinking and eating. Alcohol was served. They stayed up all night until the morning of the 13th. This tradition has some connection to todays Lucia celebration. Young people would have parties the night before and stay up all night. In the morning they would head out to either participate with or enjoy a Lucia and her maidens.

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