God Jul! and Happy St. Lucia Day!
Today we learned all about Christmas in Scandinavia. We found that although there are many common elements to the Christmas season in each Scandinavian country, they each have unique ways of celebrating, as well. Except for Iceland–we didn’t really learn anything in particular about that country at all! One thing we found interesting is the amount of national pride found on Scandinavian Christmas trees. It is common for residents of each country to put a garland of their own national flag on their Christmas tree.
Our big activity for the day was making Lussekattes, which are a sweet bun served on St. Lucia Day in Sweden. I found the recipe in Celebrate Christmas Around the World–I don’t know how authentic that recipe is, but I do know it calls for the three most expensive spices found in the world! (I also learned that World Market is a great place to buy cardamom for cheap.) We actually started on these last night, because they needed almost three hours to rise, plus all the kneading, shaping, and baking time. They were pretty good–tasted a lot like hot cross buns, but drier. The children all liked them pretty well, too, and they had the satisfaction of having helped make them, so it was a good project.
It is tradition for the oldest daughter in the house to serve the breakfast, and Bunny was happy to oblige. We also learned about the real St. Lucia, both legend and fact. The children were already familiar with what the Swedish St. Lucia looks like from seeing her in St. Charles (and from my American Girl doll), and I think Bunny was secretly hoping to wear a crown of candles. There are many stories about acts St. Lucia might have done in the name of the faith, but we mostly focused on the fact that she was a believer who did good works and in the end died for her faith.
We also read another story in The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories. This time we read “A Very Big Cat,” which is a funny Norse legend. It involves a hunter, a polar bear, and some dwarves who think the bear is a cat. We read this last year, too, and Turkey and Bunny really liked it, and remembered it better than I did.
To round out our trip through Scandinavia, Turkey and Bunny colored pictures of Christmas celebrations in Denmark and Finland. To try to incorporate Iceland into our discussion a little bit, we also looked at the flags of Scandinavia in the Usborne Flags Book. I got this book to use during our Olympics unit at the beginning of the year, and it’s a fun way to familiarize children with the different flags found around the world. Turkey and Bunny liked comparing the different colors found in all the Scandinavian flags, and also noting that they all have the same cross.