Tomorrow, the 13th of December, people in Scandinavia and in other parts of the world (Italy, Croatia) celebrate Saint Lucia. I particularly like the Swedish tradition observed on this day and I decided to honor it with an illustrated interpretation and by baking the delicious Swedish Lussekatt, a sweet saffron bun served on this occasion.
When I moved to Fribourg from the overcrowded and suffocating place where I lived before, shared with almost 4 other million souls, I had the impression nothing much was happening…no Christmas rush, no over the top Christmas lights or a huge Christmas market.
I still have one of the toys that Saint Nicholas left in my boots when I was a child, it’s a mother gorilla stuffed toy holding a baby gorilla in her arms. I had named her Uga because at that time I thought she looked like the daughter of Ugo Fantozzi, an Italian series my mother was watching on TV. I gave it to Friboy a while ago and told him that it was from Saint Nicholas, he was shocked because he doesn’t picture me as a child. I am his mom, I couldn’t have been a smaller person that believed in magic and waited impatiently for Saint Nicholas just like him. He never reacted like this when I showed him photos of me as a child, this gorilla made me that little girl in his eyes.
I don’t know why I felt compulsed to illustrate this recipe. I grew up having mucenici [mûtʃeniːʃɪ], every year for the 9th of March and still bake them here in Switzerland. So it’s nothing special, unless maybe you’re not used to the idea of food offering because that’s what they are, an ancient relic of a pre-christian celebration of time renewal and the beginning of a new year for a pastoral population that kept a tight grip on its magical patterns of thought.
When I was a child, the beginning of March was always a magical and highly expected time of the year, partly because I never liked January and February. After the euphoria of December, they seemed to me like a perpetual Monday. March was the promise of good weather, Martisor [Mərtsishor] (a talisman exchanged by people on the 1st of March in celebration of spring and the renewal of time) and the days of Baba Dochia [Dokia].
The Sense folk costume is unique in Switzerland, this type used to be worn by girls upon marriage. The headdress was marker of the marital status, like allover Europe and in other parts of the world. Nowadays the traditional costume is worn for the catholic Corpus Christi processions in Tafers and Dudingen.
I think one of the most humbling experiences one can live is to learn a trade from a different culture, even more so from someone who has no formal education.