Santa Lucia is a Swedish Holiday I have been celebrating since I was small (see below) due to Swedish ancestry. The general gist is that the oldest daughter of the family will wake the family on December 13 with a crown of candles on her head. The tradition is based on St. Lucy, who would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things.
For a better summary of the holiday, you can click here.
My family used the holiday to bring homemade Pepparkakor cookies and other treats to friends, family, and neighbors. When I graduated high school, the tradition stopped but it has always been something I plan to continue with my future daughters.
This year however, my husband and I decided we wanted to start the tradition again, albeit sans the crown of candles for now. We made a few different treats, but many many Pepparkakor cookies.
My family has used the same recipe for all these years, and it comes from American Girl cookbook, thanks to Kirsten being Swedish. Kirsten is sadly no longer part of the American Girl Doll line up, but we have kept her and the cookbook.
Here is the recipe!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
Extra flour for rolling dough
- Soften Butter
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into a medium mixing bowl. Set the bowl aside.
- Put the sugar and softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Use wooden spoon to press them against the side of the bowl, and then stir.
- Add the egg, maple syrup, and water to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat the mixture until it is fluffy.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the mixture 1 cup at a time. Mix well after each cup.
- Cover the bowl with a plate and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour to make the dough easier to roll out and handle.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ungreased cookie sheets ready to use.
- Spread flour evenly onto a table or counter and cover a rolling pin with flour.
- Divide the dough into balls. Flatten each ball and roll it from the center to the edges. Try to make the piece about 1/8 inch thick.
- Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
- Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are lightly browned on the bottom. Watch the cookies carefully as they burn easily.
- Take out and let cool.
- Enjoy! Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Let me know if you make the Pepparkakor cookies, or let me know your favorite holiday cookie!