The Second Annual Amalgamated Santerklucia Holiday Weekend

Preparing Lucia Buns for Santerklucia Weekend

It was around this time last year that we first started playing with the idea of a Dutch / Swedish / American holiday mash-up. Looking back on what I wrote at the time, I’m surprised to discover that the tradition wasn’t as firmly established as I remembered. The specific weekend in which festivities are initiated was still in flux… The component holidays were still somewhat separated, not fully melded together… And apparently I hadn’t even gotten the family to buy into the idea of the overarching name for these festivities. Still, enough of the components came together last year — in the weekend between the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas (December 5th) and the Swedish celebration of Santa Lucia (December 13th) — that it seems safe to say that 2022 was the inaugural Santerklucia Holiday Weekend for our family.

Preparing Lucia Buns for Santerklucia Weekend

There’s been no further pushback to the idea of this holiday mash-up or its portmanteau name, so our family basically decided to run it back again this year. And I’ve decided to push the language a little bit further, joyfully telling everyone who will listen that we’re celebrating our Second Annual Amalgamated Santerklucia Holiday Weekend. Because I like the way that the extra language makes it sound extra-traditional (even though it’s only in its second run). I like the way that includes the word “amalgamated,” which feels like a word one might see on the packaging of some old tonic or powder sold door-to-door in 1897. And I like that it leans into the weirdness and wonder of this family observance.

Preparing Lucia Buns for Santerklucia Weekend

It seemed especially appropriate to start the Second Annual Amalgamated Santerklucia Holiday Weekend with the preparation and blending (or, dare I say, amalgamating) of ingredients for our favorite Santerklucia pastry: Lucia Buns! I shelled cardamom seed pods and chopped Brazil nuts throughout the afternoon to get the meticulous little stuff out of the way before the kids got home from their other responsibilities. Marci mixed together the other ingredients to prepare the dough. And our little basketball-sized dough baby was ready to rest and rise by the time we all had to leave for Cor’s performance in the high school’s Madrigal Dinner.

Madrigal Dinner

We listened to Medieval-style music while drinking wassail and eating chicken and potatoes. It’s been an early-December tradition for our family for five or six years now, since Olivia joined the choir and Cor followed in her footsteps. It’s definitely got some campy Ren-faire vibes to it, but the choir’s candlelight rendition of “Silent Night” brings tears to my eyes every time.

Madrigal Dinner

After the Madrigal Dinner was finished, we went back to our house and rolled out the Lucia Buns. After forming the Lucia Buns, they had to rise for a while longer — and then, of course, they had to be baked. It ended up being a decently-late night (at least by Marci’s and my way of counting), but they turned out beautifully. Some of the fluffiest, most flavorful we’ve ever made!

Making Lucia Buns

On Saturday morning, Marci and I got up early (as usual) and made final preparations for breakfast and opening our stocking stuffer presents in the Family Room. The stocking stuffers are perhaps the most curious element in all this. I assume that the stockings filled with presents were originally brought into our families from British and American Christmas morning traditions. In the 1980s, however, Marci’s family’s moved the opening of these smaller presents to their Santa Lucia celebrations. Now, though, the stocking stuffer presents are a beloved part of our amalgamated Santerklucia Holiday Weekend.

Santerklucia Saturday

Olivia wanted to reprise her role as the household’s Santa Lucia: bringer of light, Lucia Buns, and celebration. She did not, however, seem beat the sun in the old rising game. So, we let her sleep in until around 8:30 AM, and we tried to see if she (or the boys) would stir with playing some Swedish holiday music. When that didn’t work, Marci just went into her room and woke her up. Then, Olivia donned the appropriate accoutrements and woke her brothers.

Santerklucia Saturday

For some reason, we all seem to agree that stocking stuffer “undercard” presents can be more fun than the “main feature” Christmas morning presents. Just more surprises. More quirky delights. Santerklucia presents just seem to fit in the flow of everyday life in a way that’s really fun and festive.

Santerklucia Saturday

After opening our Santerklucia gifts, we had a really nice time sitting around and “playing with our new toys.” We ate more Lucia Buns and drank more coffee. Different members of the family drifted to other parts of the house, eventually, but even that felt kind of communal. Cor and I decided to go for a run. It basically became a lovely Saturday. And in keeping with the spirit of Saturdays and the holidays, the boys and I went to play some football later in the afternoon.

Santerklucia Saturday

When we got home from football, we watched some football (or soccer) on TV — getting to see the Columbus Crew crowned as Major League Soccer champions again. And then, the party started breaking up as the evening dragged on and everybody started returning to their studies and socializing and other obligations. The Santerklucia Holiday Weekend really amounts to more of a 24-hour event than anything; but still, I’m really glad that we got to do it.

Santerklucia Saturday

Happy Santerklucia to all who celebrate!

This entry was posted in Adolescence, Amsterdam, Children, Culture, Europe, Family, Food, Home, Kent, Music, Photography, Recreation, Sweden, The Netherlands, The United States of America, Traditions, Young Adulthood. Bookmark the permalink.

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