One of my favorite parts of Advent is celebrating the handful of popular Catholic feast days that fall during this season. From Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and more, there are some big ones! A few years ago, we kind of randomly included the feast of Saint Lucy (December 13) in our Advent celebrations, even though we didn’t know too much about her. It was an excuse to make cinnamon rolls, and that was good enough for me! Since then, though, I’ve learned more about this immensely popular third-century Saint’s generosity, purity, and bravery, all of which have inspired me to keep our tradition going. Saint Lucy’s feast day is a popular celebration in a number of different countries, so I had plenty of ideas to pull from when creating this tablescape. I was most inspired by the Swedish traditions, and whether you have Swedish heritage or you were just a fan of the Kirsten books as a kid, you may recognize a few details! ;)
For this feast…
Wreath with white candles: Saint Lucy is said to have worn candles on her head while bringing food and supplies to persecuted Christians, who were hiding in the catacombs under the city of Rome. In honor of that, the Swedish tradition is that the oldest daughter in the family wears a greenery crown with (faux) white candles on it to bring breakfast to her family, early in the morning. If you don’t have a daughter (or your daughter is too young to wear anything of the sort on her head–hand raised!), setting your table with a wreath and white candles is an easy and lovely substitute. In fact, I just traded out our Advent candles for the day and used the wreath already on our table.
White linens with red detailing: These napkins nod to the outfit the girl playing Saint Lucy traditionally wears: a white dress tied with a red sash. Fittingly, red is often used as a color to symbolize martyrs, which Saint Lucy was. Find similar scalloped napkins here and a simpler red-trimmed style here, or tie a red ribbon around white napkins you already have on hand.
S-shaped cinnamon rolls: The traditional breakfast treat served on this day in Sweden is called lussekatter (saffron buns). If you love bread baking, then go for it–here‘s a recipe! I admittedly took the easy route with a different, always crowd-pleasing spiced bread: cinnamon rolls. Instead of keeping them in their usual spirals, I made them into S-shapes so they would look more reminiscent of lussekatter. You’ll see I also added two dried cranberries to each, a garnish that also nods to lussekatter, and more importantly, to the Saint we’re celebrating. Saint Lucy is often depicted holding her eyes on a platter (gruesome, I know!) because Christian tradition holds that her eyes were gouged out during her martyrdom, but she was miraculously still able to see. This is a way to represent that iconic image.
Coffee: Coffee is part of the traditional Saint Lucy’s feast day breakfast as well, and it was only a matter of time before I found a way to include our beloved coffee gear in a feast day post :) These red and white mugs from Target were a perfect fit.