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Luciadagen

(This article should have been posted yesterday, but due to a misunderstanding between myself and the calendar, this didn't happen. My apologies to anyone who, after reading this article, should feel inspired and want to pick up this tradition. You will just have to try again next year.)

The 13th of December is called "Luciadagen" in Norway. It literally means "The Lucia day", and it is of course the Norwegian name for St. Lucy's day. Along with St. John, St. Lucy is one of only two saints to get a relatively large celebration in Norway. While St. John is celebrated by people lighting bonfires and having barbeques in the evening of St. John's Eve, Luciadagen is usually celebrated in kindergartens and schools. Some of the children will dress up in white robes, with tinsel in their hair. One of the children, usually a girl, will have a crown of candles and lead, while all the others will have one candle each, and walk behind her her in a procession. Traditionally I assume it was real candles, but nowadays fake electric candles are more common, at least for the crown. These children will then walk around the school or kindergarten, sing "Sankta Lucia", also known as "Luciasangen" (The St. Lucy song), and hand out a special type of bun called a "lussekatt".

Sankta Lucia (first verse):
Svart senker natten seg
i stall og stuer.
Solen har gått sin vei.
Skyggene truer.
Inn i vårt mørke hus
Stiger med tente lys
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia!


English translation by me:

Black falls the night,
in barn and cabin.
The Sun has left.
The shadows are threatening.
Into out dark house
enters with lit candles
St. Lucy, St. Lucy!


A lussekatt is a bun made with saffron in the dough to give it a nice, strong colour. While I would have guessed that lussekatt ("katt" means "cat") had something to do with Lucia, this is not the case, according to the Norwegian Wikipedia entry on lussekatter. Supposedly, the tradition is much older than the celebration of St. Lucy's Day, and the purpose of the brightly coloured buns was to scare away Lucifer, or "Lusse" as he is apparently also known. I'm not certain this is the correct origin of the word, as the wikipedia entry doesn't list any sources, and neither is it particularly well written, but it seems a lot of traditions have multiple origins which have been mixed up a bit, so there might be something to it.

-Tor Nordam

Comments

Jørgen,  14.12.10 11:42

Det er ikke bare for fargens del at man putter i safran, da, Tor. Da kunne man like gjerne ha brukt gurkemeie. Safran SMAKER jo fantastisk mye bedre. Bakte for øvrig en hel haug i går. NOMNOM.

Anders K.,  14.12.10 12:41

You forgot the alternative version of the song, which is what most people remember from this kindergarden celebration:

Sankta Lucia
Dreit oppi lia
Når hu var ferdig
Lukta det jævlig.
Knut,  14.12.10 13:11

at turmarik has nice antiinflammatoric properties. On the other hand, saffron is so expensive it probably is anticarsinogenic ...
Camilla,  14.12.10 13:40

that the blonde girls are always chosen to be St. Lucia. I'm not bitter. Just saying.

And I wonder whether there a particular reason why the two saints we have chosen to keep celebrating have celebrations so closely tied to fire.

No

Matteus,  14.12.10 14:32

Knut, it's just an aphrodisiac. And it tastes good. And a dose of over 10 grams i lethal, or at least very unhealthy, so maybe it's to reduce saffron-related killings.

Anders K.,  18.12.10 13:48

Jeg må bare nevne at jeg finner det voldsomt lite sannsynlig at "Lusse" skal være et kallenavn på Satan. Riktignok er vikarierende navn på onde krefter temmelig utbredt, de fleste rovdyr er jo kjent for dette. Men lydformen "Lusse", en slags familiær diminutiv over samme lest som man lager kjælenavn til barn (slik som for eksempel latinerne driver mye med) er fullstendig usannsynlig. Dette kallenavnet er heller ikke, såvidt jeg har funnet og for øvrig så vidt jeg kan vurdere, dokumentert noen andre steder enn i denne Wikipedia-artikkelen.

Jeg vet ikke noe som helst om hva navnet "lussekatter" kommer av, så jeg har ikke mye å oppdatere Wikipedia-artikkelen med. Men dette med "Lusse" er åpenbart diktet opp i moderne tid. Bare til informasjon.
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