Lucia 2006

Today is Lucia, a special holiday celebrated each 13th of December in Sweden. Lucia is second only to Christmas among winter holidays in Sweden. Lucia traditions including listening to choirs singing holiday songs and sipping glögg.

If you can't find glögg in your local supermarket or wine shop, there are plenty of glögg recipes on the net. Here's my suggestion:
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • a dozen or so cloves
  • a few sticks of cinnamon
  • seeds from a few cardamom pods, crushed
  • peel from an orange (or lemon)
  • flesh from an orange, sliced (optional)
  • ½ cup vodka and/or brandy (optional)
  • a few slices of ginger (optional)
  • raisins (red or white)
  • sliced blanched almonds
Add all ingredients except the vodka, raisins, and almonds to a saucepan. Let the mix simmer for a while, but do not allow it to boil! How long your let it simmer depends on how spicy you want it. 20-30 minutes is usually sufficient, but some prefer to use a crock pot and let the glögg simmer for several hours. Add the vodka and/or brandy to the glögg just before serving. Serve in small mugs or glasses. Add few raisins and almonds to each mug. Serve with Swedish gingerbread cookies.

I'll never forget the first time I celebrated Lucia in Sweden. It was in 1999, when I was in Sweden for job interviews. It was my first time to visit Sweden, and I stayed with Lotta's cousin Anne-Louise and her then-boyfriend (now husband) Kristofer. Anne-Louise and Kristofer treated me to the Lucia concert in the candlelit Storkyrkan (big church) downtown in Gamla Stan. The beautiful choral music was poignant and uplifting. Afterward we walked to a nearby square and bought roasted almonds from a vendor. We munched on the sweet nuts as we browsed the other stalls in the winter market, ice and snow crunching between our shoes and the cobblestones. The next year, in December of 2000, I returned the favor by inviting Anne-Louise and Kristofer to the same concert.

Here's hoping you have a wonderful Lucia!

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