On St Lucy’s Day

On St Lucy’s Day

I was so proud of my braid,

Bella was a bit perplexed when I announced I was going to make a special bread for St Lucy’s day. “We don’t know anyone named Lucy,” she mused, “except the duck is called Lucy.” Lucy is the name of their toy duck. No, we don’t really know anyone named Lucy (though it was my first choice of a name had Anthony been a girl). My dad had an Aunt Lucy and I think that’s about it.

golden brown and delicious

So why bread on St Lucy’s day? Well, do you really need anything more than the flimsiest excuse to make a new treat? For several years now I’ve been reading Karen Edmisten’s raves about her so easy to make St Lucia bread. I really wanted to make it least year but pregnancy led me to reign in my ambitions. This year the bread seemed like a distinct possibility. 

glazed and ready to eat

Also, last year I scored a hard to find copy of my friend Lissa’s book, Hannah’s Christmas about a young girl from Sweden and the year Christmas almost didn’t happen. The crux of the story is Hannah’s celebration of St Lucia day with toast and jam substituting for Lucia buns. So I figured that Bella had some prep for the notion of sweet bread on the fest day.

Sophie helped me find all the places that needed more glaze

At dinner tonight I read Bella a short biography of St Lucy (Ok, disclaimer: I redacted as I read to skip over some of the details she wouldn’t get and to make it a lot shorter. If you aren’t good at editing as you go, this might not be the best St Lucy biography for tender young souls.) I hadn’t realized St Lucy was a Sicilian saint, who lived in the same region that Dom’s grandparents were from. So there’s another reason for our family to adopt some sort of St Lucy celebration.

“It’s a big ring!”

Anyway, the St Lucia bread was as easy as Karen claimed and so, so, so, so, so very yummy. I was very impressed with how tender and soft it was. A perfect crumb and a light orange taste. Not too sweet, the dough was like a soft brioche or a very tender challah. This is definitely going into my recipe file and we will be making it again. The only negative feature of the recipe I can find is that it makes a really big bread. Which given that Ben is pinky and would only try a small nibble, my girls are both dainty eaters, my sister has gone gluten free, and my husband is diabetic, means that I will be eating far too much of it.



Lucy the duck

Some more about St Lucy and how her feast used to fall on the shortest day of the year and why the Swedes wear candles on their heads in her honor.

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  • Melanie, that’s a great rhyme! 

    I have 2 younger brothers, and I remember when they were in that stage of grabbing at everything in sight, and pulling it towards themselves, having no knowledge of the consequences (it’s going to break, there are other things on it, it’s dangerous to put in your mouth, etc.).  It is a hassle to deal with all the disorder that can result and to have to baby-proof the entire area.  But I wanted to thank you for describing Anthony’s ‘hijinks’, all the same. 
    a) It was just fun to look through his eyes as I read your description, and realize how intrigued he must have been not only with all the new things he was encountering, but also with learning how he could interact with them.  I think children that young are all-out fascinated with the world around them and they are not shy about exploring it and finding out how to participate in this cool place they’ve come to.
    b) I was recently advised by one of the fine priests in our diocese to explore a gift God has given me, like a child.  I’ve been trying to think of what that means, “like a little girl, like a child,” and asking Him to help me see how to explore this gift like His little girl.  He’s helped me see, in my imagination, what that wd be like….but it was helpful, too, to read about Anthony exploring the world around him.  Now I have a picture for how this ‘explore as a child’ thing works! 

    So – thanks for writing about life at the Bettinelli household, and today, especially about that cutie, Anthony!

  • Thanks, Margo.
    When I’m not utterly frustrated by how hard it can be to get things done—dinner still needs to be made! even when Anthony insists that I hold him so that he can see what is going on in that mysterious realm of counter- and stove-top—it is delightful to see the world through Anthony’s eyes. Everything is new and he wants to not only to see, but to touch and taste the world. I suppose in that sense there is something Eucharistic about the way they explore. If we want to truly know Christ we don’t just listen to his words but to know him fully we must eat his Body. I think Anthony would get that.

    Also, I remember what John Holt wrote about observing the way children explore their world. He says that a child is not afraid of being wrong (until he has been taught that there are bad consequences when he guesses wrong). He makes a guess, tries one way and then another until he gets it right. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, he’ll keep attacking a problem until he solves it. Anthony is not afraid of falling when he climbs, of tasting something bad, of being yelled at for trespassing. He boldly goes where ever his imagination leads him and doesn’t worry about consequences or what people will think. Those are all beautiful traits. Of course it is necessary that eventually we learn caution; but to recover that childish disregard can also be freeing.

    Thank you for helping me to remember to pause and marvel at the littlest member of my family, to remember that his explorations are a beautiful and exciting quest even as they exasperate me.

  • Melanie, Anthony sounds like he’s active in the way that used to inspire my mother-in-law to give glowing lectures on the benefits of playpens.  Not that I had any success with using the one I had for a brief time.  A friend used to cook dinner with her youngest of the moment in a backpack, but I would get too frustrated by the baby swinging from side to side or grabbing my hair.  Soon Anthony will want to build rather than destroy, and then your place will be a little saner.  Enjoy this special Christmas!

  • Erika, I can only pray.

    Scotch Meg, Yes, I fear Anthony’s response to a playpen would be screaming, screaming, and more screaming. Only mildly better than having him grabbing my leg and screaming. Especially as there would be no place to put it that would be line of sight to me in the kitchen.  I agree about the frustrations of a backpack, though I think Anthony might like it. I fear that when Anthony is older Ben will start to see him as a partner and then who knows what we’ll be in for; but I like your vision of a saner existence . I’ll try to hold on to that hope.