Today is Lucia Day, which (as all Svenska tjejer know) is the beginning of Christmas. Rice pudding is traditional with an almond tucked into the creaminess. (Whoever gets the almond will have good luck in the coming year.) Once I won a newspaper contest with this delicious baked version.
Marty's Rice Pudding
- 6 eggs
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3 cups cooked rice
Beat eggs until lemony in color. Add honey, sugar and spices; mix well. Stir in vanilla, cream, milk and cooked rice. Pour into a two-quart casserole. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean. (A custard rises to the top.)
Saint Lucia could serve the warm pudding with rolls and cocoa. She's another Swedish tradition.
Heidi as St. Lucia 1986
Every December 13th I made a crown out of a paper plate, clipped on little red candles, placed it on the head of one of my precious daughters and LIT IT ON FIRE! Little Swedish girls have done it for centuries—singed hair is the price of our heritage. There are many versions of the Lucia legend. This is the one I've passed down:
Saint Lucia and the Star Boys
Lucy was a young Christian girl martyred for her beliefs centuries ago in Rome. She was made a Saint, and remembered as St. Lucia in the Scandinavian countries. One especially dark and hopeless December the people in a poor village were starving. From across the lake they could see a blaze of brightness coming toward them. It was Lucia, her blond hair encircled by a halo of brilliant light, wearing a white robe with a red sash, bringing them bread. She was accompanied by young boys, their faces also illuminated as if by the stars, hauling sacks of food.
Since then the day has been celebrated as the Festival of Lights in Sweden. In some families the oldest daughter wakes up before dawn, and prepares a breakfast tray for her parents. She dresses in a white robe with a red ribbon sash, and wears a crown of candles. Her younger brothers play the part of the Star Boys, also wearing white, carrying pictures of stars. This is the start of Christmas festivities in their home.
For me, St. Lucia symbolizes the light Jesus Christ brings to the world, and the Bread of Life He provides for us. He gives a dark world hope. It's a lovely way to remember the reason I celebrate Christmas.
(Eventually we got a safe replica of a St Lucia Crown. It had fake candles lit with batteries.)