Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy St. Lucia Day!

When I was little I was obsessed with American Girl Dolls. Kirsten, the Swedish immigrant to Minnesota, was my personal fave. When I got her for my birthday (in 1st grade?) I could not be happier...


My favorite Christmas that I remember is when my mom and dad made most of our big gifts. My sister and I woke up Christmas morning to find two matching yellow dollhouses handcrafted by my dad. He even cut up popsicle sticks to make shingles for the roof. These were truly a work of art and a labor of love. And the perk? He made each room and doorway tall enough for our Barbies to fit inside. Holler!

But then he also built a bed for my Kirsten doll that looked just like the one that cost a bajillion dollars in the catalog. I still have it somewhere at my parent's house. And my mom sewed Kirsten a quilt for her new bed and some new dresses. It was my favorite Christmas ever, so don't be afraid to shower a little handmade love on your kids this year!

But Kirsten was not only a toy in our house. Her story wove its way into our own family Christmas traditions. In 2nd grade, each student in my class had to give a presentation on a winter holiday from another culture. I chose to teach my class about St. Lucia, which is the Swedish holiday Kirsten celebrates with her family. It looks like this...

To sum it up, the oldest daughter in the family rises before dawn, dresses in garb similar to what you see above, and makes food for her family (traditionally some kind of sticky bun or cake similar to gingerbread}. She then lights her candle wreath and invites her family members to breakfast to symbolize St. Lucia,who fed the poor on the streets. If you want to read more about it, this is a great post written by a Swedish blogger.

After I shared this tradition with my classmates, I also wanted to share it with my family, so I stared inviting them to breakfast with cinnamon rolls {from a can, of course} each December 13th. My mom made my sister and I take turns each year, so we wouldn't fight over who got to be St. Lucia. Yes, we thought it was cool enough to fight over. Safety disclaimer: we wore a tissue paper wreath and we NEVER actually lit the candles.

Of course, over the years, my sister and I grew a bit disenchanted with St. Lucia. The idea of wearing a white nightgown and wreath on our heads lost its glamour, but we still carried on the tradition by eating cinnamon rolls with our family every December 13th.

I remember my mom lamenting during my first year of college that I wouldn't be home to be St. Lucia {at this point, I hadn't dressed up as St. Lucia for at least 8 or 9 years, I promise; I think she was just being nostalgic} so I told her if she was really desperate, she should convince my little brother to put on his karate uniform and his red belt for cinnamon roll time.

Although we joke about who has to be St. Lucia now, it really is a fond family memory and a holiday I hope own kids will want to celebrate someday.

P.S. I'm writing this the night before St. Lucia Day. I might just wake up extra early tomorrow and leave cinnamon rolls for Micah on the counter before work... the oldest daughter in me just can't resist.

What are your fondest holiday traditions?

Linking up with An Oregon Cottage!


Karly said...

Ah! I LOVE Kirsten and the entire American Girl story line. As a Swede from Minnesota, she of course became my instant favorite among all the American Girls. I always wanted the Kirsten doll, but I never got one =(

Our biggest tradition was having Grandpa read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve to my brother, my cousin Joe and me. Even after Grandma and Grandpa moved to Redding, CA, they sent a wonderful copy of the book to us with a cassette recording of Grandpa reading the book so we could still listen to him on Christmas Eve.

Nichole said...

Love this post. I just recently went to The American Girl Store. I used to love mine! That sounds like such a fun tradition! Lucky husband gets cinnamon rolls!Mine would definitely have to be my whole family gathering around my uncle to read the Night Before Christmas. He passed away this year so the tradition has all new meanings. Hope your finals went well!

Jenny said...

Love your post! When my sister and I were super into American Girl dolls somehow we managed to convinced our mom to take us to Cinnabon before school on St. Lucia day. Unfortunately, it wasn't a tradition that caught on, but thanks to your reminder I'm going to be sure to have something sweet for breakfast!

Jessi @ this camera tells my story said...

I never knew this story! I had Molly and Addy when I was younger :) But I think Kirsten was next on my list.

Our neighbors invited us over for dinner the other night for St Nikola day (I think that's how you spell it). They're Bulgarian and I guess the story is that a boat was sinking and he plugged the hole with a fish and saved everyone so to celebrate each year they cook a fish dinner. I love learning all the different Christmas traditions.

aPearantly sew said...

I love family traditions so much, and I love the fact that you and your sister started this one! What a fun thing to continue through the years (even if you don't still dress up :) Our boys are just getting to the age where they understand what Christmas means, and there is so much excitement in our house this year. I love it. It makes the holiday season that much more special and fun.

Katie said...

I had Kirsten! She was my favorite (along with Molly!) This whole post made me smile!

Kassi at Truly Lovely said...

How fun to share a tradition from another country with your family! :) We never did St. Lucia... But I do remember doing the 12 Days of Christmas. The 'spirit' of Christmas brought us 12 little gifts the days leading up to Christmas... It was almost always my Granny.

Meredith said...

We used to do St. Lucia too!!!! Love love love this post!

Jessa Irene said...

Beautiful tradition, beautiful post! Thanks for sharing this lovely-ness with my party. Pinning and tweeting!

Allison Ross said...

Loved teaching this to my 2nd graders this year! Check out my prezi I adapted: http://prezi.com/p6-jrne7blhi/christmas-in-sweden/