Today, we are celebrating St. Lucia Day, by baking a variety of holiday cookies including peppar kakor, traditional Scandinavian ginger cookies and the German recipes for pfeffernusse and springerle of my husband’s grandmother and sharing them with friends.

“It’s fascinating how the traditions of your childhood linger long into your adult years, and even shape the kinds of memories you long to create with your own children. My mother, whose great-grandparents emigrated from Sweden, tried her best to keep us connected to our Scandinavian roots while living in New Mexico. Therefore, each year we would celebrate St. Lucia Day on December 13.

Lucia can be traced to the martyr St. Lucia of Italy, but modern Swedes celebrate her as the bearer of light during cold, dark Scandinavian winters. Legend tells of a young woman wearing a white dress and crown of candles who braved the snow to bring food to the people.

As the oldest daughter, I got to be St. Lucia. I rose early, dressed in a long white nightgown with a red sash and crown, then served breakfast to my family. Each year, my mother and I would collect pine branches from the yard to fashion a crown of light with electric candles. The night before, we would bake biscuits and cinnamon rolls or sometimes go to the European bakery for lussekatter, sweet saffron buns that look like curled-up cats with raisin eyes. My sisters would sneak out of bed to be my handmaidens or Lucy girls, but sadly we didn’t have any star boys with tall, white, conical hats and star wands. We would sing the St. Lucia song and eat breakfast together.” From Spirit Baby: Travels through China on the Long Road to Motherhood.

Today, as the snow falls, we will light the angel chimes, go sledding, drink hot cocoa, watch the movie Elf and eat too many cookies!