Swedish Holiday Traditions


Traditional Santa Lucia costumes from the girls' Swedish grandmother (farmor).

About twelve-and-a-half years ago, my life became inextricably linked to a Swede--my husband--who grew up half-time in Stockholm and half-time in Boston. As a result, he has a deep love of Swedish Christmas traditions which mainly revolve around food that brightens up the darkest December days with color and flavor. I too have come to love these traditions and sharing them with our girls. The first tradition falls on December 13th, Santa Lucia Day (luciadagan), and the second on Christmas Eve for which we prepare a giant julbord.

We use many of our harvested treats in the julbord including saffron to make saffronsbullar and saffron cake, as well as pickled veggies like green beans and beets. As appetizers, we always supply homemade red and green salsas. In the post below we offer some of our favorite julbord recipes.

Our Annual Swedish Julebord: cured meats and cheeses, especially Jarlsberg, Limpa bread, saffransbullar, pickled herring, gravlox, Swedish meatballs and gravy, lingonberry jam, dill potatoes, and pickled beets.

Saffron Buns / Saffransbullar / Lussekatter


  • 2 - 1/8 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 packets of dry yeast
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 gram saffron
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 7 - 1/2 c. flour
  • raisins
  • 1 egg



  1. Heat milk and butter in a sauce pan to 100 deg. (F). Add yeast stiring until dissolved.
  2. Stir in sour cream, saffron, sugar, salt, and 7 c. of flour kneading until dough is smooth and silky.
  3. Let rise for 40 min. and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Flour work surface and punch down risen dough, then divide into 36 pieces.
  5. Roll into a rope 5 to 6 inches long and then lay in an S-shape on the parchment paper.
  6. Garnish with raisins in the center of each S-curl.
  7. Cover with a towel and let rise another 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 325 deg. (F)
  9. Brush each bun with beaten egg and then bake until puffed and golden, 5 - 10 minutes depending on your elevation. Here at roughly 6500 feet, I wouldn't let them go longer than five minutes with out checking on them.

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