Celebrating St. Lucy’s Feast Day With Kids- The Ultimate Resource List!

There are many traditional ways to celebrate St. Lucy’s (Santa Lucia’s) feast day, many of them originating from Scandinavia, especially Sweden. I love how much culture it opens us up to when we celebrate these awesome Catholic feast days! You’ll find everything you need to celebrate St. Lucy’s feast day right here from this one post. 🙂

I have a Swedish friend and when I saw him over Thanksgiving, I asked a ton of questions about celebrating this feast day in Sweden! Everything I learned from him was fascinating and I definitely found a lot of other celebrations I had seen got some key parts wrong. So today I want to bring some authentically Swedish ways of celebrating this beautiful feast day to all of you. 

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What Is St. Lucy’s Feast Day?

It’s the feast day of Saint Lucy from Syracuse, of course! A quick overview of the story of St. Lucy that explains that traditional celebrations:

December 13 is the day that we remember St. Lucy. She was a virgin and a martyr, and she is traditionally pictured with a tray containing 2 eyes. This is because it is said that she had her eyes torn out through torture for being a Christian, but through a miracle, she could still see. She is the patroness of the blind and of those with other eye ailments.

During her life it is said that she brought food and blankets to prisoners in a dark underground prison. Because she wanted to use her arms to carry as many supplies as possible, she made a wreath for the top of her head and inserted candles so she wouldn’t have to carry her candle. This is where the Santa Lucia crowns come from! 

Traditional Swedish “Santa Lucia” Celebrations

Because this feast day is such a huge deal in Sweden, that’s where most of the traditions for this day originate. Because her name is derived from the Latin word “lux” for “light”, her feast day is celebrated in Sweden as a festival of light. It includes many candles and tons of beautiful traditions. You should definitely learn a bit about Swedish culture when celebrating this feast day.

Here’s a quick list of the top Swedish traditions for this day:

  • Eating traditional Saffron buns “Lussekatter”
  • Girls dressed in white robes with red sashes 
  • Wreaths with candles worn on girl’s heads
  • Boys dressed up as “star boys” with cones on their heads
  • Gingerbread house and cookie making and decorating
  • Singing the Santa Lucia song

More marks of Swedish Christmas:

  • Straw ornaments– I have a set similar to this one that includes the traditional straw angels and goats. We love setting these on our St. Lucy day table! 
  • Gnomes– if you’re looking to craft some of your Christmas gnomes, my friend Sarah has got you COVERED! Check out all of her directions for these diy Christmas gnomes

Straw Ornament Set - 16 pc.

St. Lucy Bread (Traditional Saffron Buns) 

Saffron buns, also known as “Lussekatter,” are Swedish saffron buns that are traditionally made and eaten on St. Lucia’s feast day. This recipe is a very common tradition and a big deal! You can find my recipe for traditional Saffron buns here as well as some feedback about cooking with saffron in general. 

how to make saffron buns for santa lucia day

Cheap And Easy Saffron Bun Alternatives

If you don’t want to spend the time making yeast rolls, or the money to buy saffron, and you’re looking for an easy way to make “St. Lucy Bread”, I have some “cheater” recipes as well! You can see my whole post about cheap and easy St. Lucy buns here. And I have yet another idea involving doughnuts here. My kids loved these!

st. lucy bread during advent

More Traditional Swedish Recipes

Besides the saffron buns mentioned above, check out these traditional foods from Sweden often served during their holiday celebrations.

Here’s a little tip- you can often find Swedish stuff at IKEA! So check out their food, ornaments, etc when searching for authentic Swedish things here in the United States. I also often find interesting things at ALDI, Target, and Lidl, so check those places as well. 

  • Glogg– this is a mulled wine that is served warm, but you can get it in both alcoholic and non alcoholic varieties. You can find it on Amazon here or you can find a recipe to make your own here
  • Julmust– we don’t have this available to us in the USA but I have heard it compared to root beer. You can read more about Julmust here.
  •  Gingerbread– you can bake your own or buy the premade stuff. Here’s a recipe for Swedish gingerbread
  • Tea– serve all your desserts and pasties with hot tea or coffee. They call it having “fika” to hang out with friends while enjoying hot tea or coffee. 
  • Checkerboard Cookies– these are another that are a staple of Sweden and they’re easier to make than they look. Find directions for baking your own here.
  • Pearl Sugar– this can go on top of a variety of their baked goods including Swedish cinnamon rolls, saffron buns, and cookies. To me it looks like that giant salt you put on top of pretzels. It’s white- not shiny. You can buy Swedish pearl sugar here
  • Swedish Meatballs– a classic! I grab these along with the lingonberry jam every time I visit IKEA. Find a recipe for Swedish meatballs here.
  • Baked Ham– theirs get covered with a mustard sauce and bread crumbs. 
  • Rye Bread– or other Christmas breads baked with Swedish beer. Their rye bread is different than the Jewish variety you can find at our stores. Find a recipe here.

St. Lucy Costume- Dressing Up For St. Lucy Day

There are many traditional costumes in Sweden for the feast of St. Lucia! We will start with a list of the costumes:

  • St. Lucy (white robe, red sash, wreath with candles on her head
  • Choir girls (white robe, crown of silver tinsel, carries a single candle)
  • Star boys (wear cone shaped hats with stars and carry star wands)
  • St. Nicholas costumes
  • Gingerbread people costumes

Dressing As St. Lucy

On St. Lucia’s feast day in Sweden, the girls wear white dresses with red sashes, and wreaths with candles atop their heads. The white and red symbolize the pureness and martyrdom of St. Lucy. It is said that when bringing supplies to the Christians hiding in the catacombs, St. Lucy put a wreath of candles on her head so that both of her hands would be free to carry the supplies. This way she could carry more at a time! So on this day, traditionally the girls wear green wreaths with candles on their heads. We use fake candles- beware of fire hazards. 

santa lucia celebration

Our “supplies” differ somewhat from hers. 😉 Our St. Lucy cakes…

st lucy feast day sweet bread

In the picture, Lydia is wearing one of our tulle advent wreaths on her head. You can find directions to make your own here. It would be easy to make the pipe cleaner base bigger to accommodate an actual crown size.

st lucy feast day wreath for head

You can craft a simple head wreath with paper, staples, and faux leaves. We used tissue paper for the candle flames. This was very simple to put together.

how to make a paper st. lucy crown

Star Boy Costume For St. Lucy’s Feast Day

Boys can wear “star hats” (a cone shaped hat with a star on the top) and carry star wands. I would recommend making these with white poster board and gold glitter glue. 



A Song For St. Lucy’s Feast Day

What do Americans want to do when they stick candles in a dessert? Well, sing a song and then blow them out, of course! So it’s really handy for us that St. Lucy has a beautiful song to sing. 🙂

I finally made a sing a long version of the Saint Lucy song translated into English, so now your children can easily sing it. I also took it down a few keys so you don’t have to be able to sing so high. 

 

 

A Simple St. Lucy Song For The Littles (tune of “Are You Sleeping”)

O Saint Lucy, O Saint Lucy

Dressed in white, dressed in white

Lighting up the darkness, lighting up the darkness

Shining bright, shining bright!

Definitely don’t miss watching this video of the authentic and beautiful St. Lucy song being sung in its original Swedish!

 

Children’s Books For St. Lucy’s Feast Day

  • Lucia Saint of Light– this book is still in print, so affordable to own, but you can also listen to it for free here.
  • Kirsten’s Surprise– an American Girl book (I recommend that if you get any American Girl books, you buy them used because the new ones don’t have illustrations.)
  • Christmas Around The World– We have an older edition of this book, and on the Sweden pages, it tells the story of St. Lucy. It also tells about many other Christmas traditions, most of which are Catholic in origin. We like this book.
  • Lucia Morning In Sweden– I don’t have this one, but it’s on my wish list.

st lucy picture books for catholic kids

Hannah’s Christmas– this book is absolutely adorable, but… it’s also ridiculously expensive because it’s out of print. However, I highly recommend watching a reading of this book for free on YouTube. 🙂 We watch it every year- it’s well done.

I fully recommend watching this video! This book is beautiful and it includes many Swedish traditions and decorations in the illustrations. We love to watch this each year as we eat our saffron buns. 

Crafts For St. Lucy’s Feast Day

You know us- we always like to celebrate with a craft! I find myself more and more partial to things that go together easily, like printable crafts, and I just so happen to have several of those for Santa Lucia day. 😉

st lucy feast day celebration

I now have a printable peg doll wrap for St. Lucy in my Advent Saint peg dolls pack. You just follow my easy step by step directions to paint her head, then the body and her crown decoupage on. It’s that easy!

First, be sure to check out my Advent Saints pack. It includes this printable St. Lucy and Star Boy ornament. These are super cut and fun to put together! These can be printed in black in white, or in color.

saint lucy and star boy craft

If you’re looking for something that is a little easier (for younger kids) you’ll want to check out my Alphabet Saints pack. This St. Lucy comes in that pack, and she’s very easy to put together, even for the youngest crafter. These are also available in black and white or color. (Both Saint packs also include St. Nicholas)

saint lucy lucia craft- printable

How To Draw St. Lucy For Kids

I now have a video that will show your kids step by step how to draw St. Lucy! It is included in my free “How To Draw Advent Saints” video, so check that out here!

Free St. Lucy Coloring Pages (the easiest “craft” in the world) 😉

Saint-Lucy-Coloring-page

Gingerbread For St. Lucy’s Feast Day

It is very traditional in Sweden for this feast day to make a decorate gingerbread cookies and houses. So much fun! My kids love making gingerbread houses. This past year we made some actual Advent Saint gingerbread cookies, but making anything from gingerbread on this day is traditional. Pictured below is St. Lucy, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Nicholas!  

Easy St. Lucy Feast Day Tradition Ideas

  • Drive around with hot chocolate and look at Christmas lights! This is super fun for today since Lucy’s name means “light”
  • Sing the Santa Lucia song together
  • Bake saffron buns or sweet bread of some kind with your kids, or enjoy some doughnuts together
  • Dress up as St. Lucy and/or a star boy
  • Bake or decorate gingerbread

Have Fun!

Above all, make sure that the kids have a fun time celebrating this feast day, and learn a little something about this Saint in the process. Don’t let stress about things being perfect ruin your good time. How easy it is for us moms to loose site of the end goal! 😉

st lucy's feast day celebration

Comments

  1. What a lovely collection of ideas for celebrating St. Lucy. Thanks for sharing our coloring page too!

  2. I always love your ideas! Feel free to share mine…Something fun we do…I get candy eyeballs from halloween discount candy and give them to the kids. We also get chicken from the local POPEYES restaurant…we have a sick sense of humor POP-EYES!!!

  3. So excited to learn about the Hannah’s Christmas video. I too have been coveting that book but it is too expensive. Watching the story makes me want it even more!

    I’m visiting my kid’s schools this Friday to share our Lucia tradition. Here is how I explain the story to preschoolers: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MindfulStitching/about

  4. What wonderful ideas! I so love reading your post, thank you so very much.

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