December 13, 2007

Happy Santa Lucia

Some of my earliest Christmas memories involve Santa Lucia celebrations. My father was Norwegian and most of our family friends were some variety of Scandinavian. One of his best friends and business partners was Swedish and his wife was from Finland, and every year they held a party on December 13th in honor of Santa Lucia Day. I loved these evenings for many reasons, but largely because it was very kid-centered. The main event was a procession in which the children acted out the Lucia story. The oldest girl usually got to play the role of Lucia and wear the robe and the crown of candles. The helpers got either a tinsel crown or a hat, depending on whether you were a girl or a boy, and everyone carried a candle or a lantern. We would parade through the house while several people sang and played guitar and piano . The grand finale was when Lucia and her helpers handed out little paper bags of sweet buns to everyone.

Of course, there was plenty of food: sweet buns flavored with cardamom with hard raisins on top, trays of cookies including pepperkaker and sirupsnipper and cup after cup of warm glogg. Pure heaven. That's me in the blue, exactly 35 years ago tonight. And yes, those are real, lit candles in the hands of three year-olds. However, while we were apparently allowed to play with fire, cocktails were forbidden. This recipe for glogg is simple and delicious and can be enjoyed by all the celebrants at your holiday gatherings, regardless of age. I hope you enjoy it.

Rhoda's Non-alcoholic Glogg
Juice of 2 large lemons
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup white sugar
8 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain and serve warm in small ceramic cups.

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