“Buns are expressive of religious devotion quite as much as anything else,” says Melanie McDonagh writing about St Lucy’s Day in The Tablet.
Today is St Lucy’s Day, an Advent stepping stone, and in Sweden most people will be enjoying a least one saffron bread roll called a Lussikatter.
Parents of young children will have their first bun early in the morning when the daughter of the house, dressed as St Lucy with lights on her head, enters their bedroom with coffee and Lussikatters and singing the Sankta Lucia song.
Some young women in the Lucia costume will have a crown of real candles flickering on their head as they lead a procession in church today.
The tradition recalls the the claim that St Lucy wore candles on her head to keep her hands free to carry food as she visited persecuted Christians hiding in Sicilian catacombs.
Lucy died for her faith at the hands of the Roman authorities in 304.
Today she is a symbol of the light of Christ to be celebrated at Christmas and again at Easter.
There are big Lucia services today in her home town of Siracusa, Naples where the song originated and Stockholm.
***Bageriet Swedish baker in Rose Street, off Long Acre in London’s Covent Garden, is selling Lussikatter buns today.
***Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral has a Lucia service on Saturday evening.
***Sankta Lucia will be visiting St James’s Church, Merton, during the 9.30am Sunday Mass on 16 December. The church is on the corner of Martin Way and Beaford Grove near South Merton Station.