Easy St. Lucy Buns Without Saffron (A Beginner’s Celebration!)

St. Lucy Day (also known as St. Lucia Day) is just around the corner on December 13! This is a fun feast day to celebrate when living the liturgical year at home, and I would love to show you today how to celebrate St. Lucy’s feast day as a beginner, including how to bake easy saffron buns that are saffron free! You can also find all of my resources for celebrating the feast day of St. Lucy here.

Iced cinnamon rolls in a takeout tray
On this day, it’s a big tradition for the oldest girl in the family to dress in a white garment with a red sash (symbolizing martyrdom) with a St. Lucy crown on her head. She wakes up early and brings her family members sweet rolls (or ‘Lucia buns’) to their bed. Traditionally, this would be saffron bread, but other sweet breads can be substituted.
Child in a St. Lucy Costume showing off baked saffron free buns

Craft A Paper Crown To Wear At St. Lucy

It is said that St. Lucy wore a wreath on her head with candles in order to light the way as she brought food to the poor. We made our St. Lucy crown from construction paper- I didn’t want real fire on Lydia’s head. Lol! I cut strips from green paper and taped them in a loop the size of her head. We taped on white rectangles for the candles, and I twisted pieces of yellow tissue paper for the “flames”. I had some extra greenery left over from our advent wreath craft, so I hot-glued some leaves on. We made the whole crown while our bread was baking.

St. Lucy's Crown Craft

Saffron Substitute For St. Lucy Bread

I have a traditional recipe for saffron buns here. Some years I go all out and bake them from scratch, other years I don’t. You can follow my authentic recipe and substitute orange rind as a saffron substitute. If you do this, I also suggest adding yellow food color to your dough to replicate the bright color of the rolls. 

St. Lucy Bread Using Canned Cinnamon Rolls

My daughter is only 4, so we staged her bringing some rolls upstairs to my 2-year-old (pretending to be asleep in bed). Lydia wore her flower girl dress from a wedding last Summer, and I tied a red ribbon around her waist. It’s traditional to wear a red sash, but we didn’t have one.
Takeout tray with iced cinnamon rolls
Iced Cinnamon Rolls

We all know I’m not a cook, so in place of the saffron bread, we made out-of-the-can cinnamon rolls. It seems that an “S” shape is traditional, so I re-shaped the cinnamon rolls. A lot of St. Lucy bread seems to be garnished with dried cranberries, dates, or almonds- I was going to use raisins, but we were out.

Iced Cinnamon Rolls

Try A Wreath Shaped Bread

It’s also traditional to make your sweet bread in the shape of a braided wreath and put candles in it. Again, I braided straight-from-the-can cinnamon rolls and formed them into a circle.

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Cinnamon rolls braided together
Wreath bread made out of cinnamon roll mix

Use Candles In Your Bread Wreath

After baking, I drizzled it with the icing and inserted white birthday candles. Yay for easy St. Lucy bread! (I made this wreath and the two sweet rolls all from just one can of cinnamon rolls.)

Cinnamon roll wreath bread with candles
Cinnamon Roll Wreath Bread With Candles
After lighting the candles, I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do. Since St. Lucy is the patroness of the blind, we said a prayer for St. Lucy to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Then we sang “Happy St. Lucy Day to You…” and blew out the candles. This seemed like the logical thing to do to me! 😉
This is such a great way to have fun with your kids and teach them about St. Lucy! We’re going to make celebrating St. Lucy day an annual tradition at our home!
Also, be sure to check out my printable St. Lucy crafts!
Saint lucy and star boy craft
Saint lucy lucia craft- printable

More St. Lucy Feast Day Resources

I have a ton of resources and Swedish recipes, traditions, and even crafts for celebrating this Saint feast day, so find everything you need to celebrate St. Lucy day here!

Celebrating St. Lucy Day


  1. This looks like a yummy feast day celebration! I did a report on St. Lucia day when I was in elementary school yet, we've never actually celebrated the feast day at home. I do, however, have plans to this year since my youngest is a St. Lucy fan. My daughters both have American Girl's Kirsten doll and her St. Lucia outfit so I think I'll surprise them and dress their dolls for the 13th.

  2. What delightful pictures! Your little St Lucia is sooo cute!

  3. Our Family says

    – I just added your link to your lovely blog to my new little blog!

  4. Love the head wreath tutorial. Cute photos of your St. Lucy sweetie! Wishing you a peaceful Advent!

  5. I remember celebrating St. Lucy Day in grade school. The simplicity of your celebration is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

  6. the only occasion you'd dress your 4 year old in a white formal dress and give her sticky buns … lol. so cute. such great ideas! thanks as always!

  7. I love your blog and ideas! Thanks for commenting on my post over at CMO!

  8. Lacy, this is an amazing post! I love pretty much everything about it and really want to borrow my niece and teach her all about St. Lucy (and who doesn't want sweets brought to them?).

  9. Cheryl Basile says

    Visiting you from my blog — Diary of a Sower. Great idea for a simple Lucia bread recipe! We have made the saffron buns in the past but didn't have time to do it today, so this will be a great alternative!

    Thank you for such a great blog and so many wonderful ideas.

  10. We are doing this today!!! Lacy you are the greatest!!!

    All you had to say was "from the can" and you had me!

    If I see the word "yeast" I pretty much think no way!

    I should have come and looked to refresh my memory, because with the 2 extra strips I just twisted them and doubled them up and added them to the ring!

    They are baking right now…we are slow on Mondays!!

    Thank you so much!

  11. Great suggestions! (Oh, and by the way, I LOVE your site…you give such excellent ideas!!!!) We have that book about Lucia and it's my FAVORITE. I've bought two others in the past, but IMO I think this one gives the best explanation for all the symbols surrounding Lucia Day yet presenting it in a nice "story" format to keep little ones interested AND with lovely illustrations! It also has a song (with accompaniment for piano), recipe and resources! I just purchased the book for this year and am very pleased!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  12. Catherine Anne says

    I have been going through Catholic cusines link up. I saw your comment on one of the post. Your little one is beautiful! You can see she loves this celebration. Blessings Catherine
    Here is our Sunshine enjoying it as well! http://catherineanne5.blogspot.com/2010/12/st-lucy-santa-lucia.html Blessings

  13. I just LOVE this quick, easy idea for the wreath coffee cake. It came out beautifully and was easy to do on a busy weekday morning. This is the first year we’ve done this for St. Lucy Day. I got my 3-year-old a cute plush wreath with candles from an online Swedish gift shop. For the white dress I got the angel gown costume from Oriental Trading. (Only $6!) I’ve added the wreath and gown to our December dress-up box in our dramatic play area here at home.

    • Such a cute idea! Last year Lydia wore an old flower girl dress of hers, but it doesn’t fit her this year. I need something bigger and more versatile!

  14. We made St. Lucia dinner! I did a braided pepperoni roll…..crescent roll sheets with pepperoni and cheese in the middle. Cut strips in the sides of the crescent sheets and “braid” them over the filling. Arrange two braids into a circle and bake. We did put candles in it as well. FYI….candles in a hot thing will melt 😉 But the kids loved it! They ate dinner wearing their St. Luci candle crowns and it was a great way to weave a little more Catholic into our day! Thanks!

  15. Dear Lacy,
    Thanks for sharing your family tradition. I don’t have an oldest daughter (yet!) but I am excited to copy you this when I do! For now, I’ll just be baking sweet bread for my boy, but it’s nice to have this in my back pocket. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I hope you don’t mind if I link to this post on my blog?

  16. where are the recipes ?