Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Swedish Holiday in London- Preparing for Lucia

I have a special affinity for the Swedish traditions...for anything Swedish actually. I am an avid Stockholm enthousiast and enthousiast is an understatement. Love the city, have been there 5-6 times before, sometimes in the dead of winter, when it's pitch black outside by the time you get out of lunch at NK, or when it's broad day light, all night long, in the hot months of June and July and you're thankful for those IKEA special light-blocking curtains.

The Archipelagos are also, in my mind, some of the most beautiful islands/places I've been to in my life. 

And don't even get me started on Swedish people. Swedes are not only some of the most gorgeous human beings I've encountered in my lifetime, but they're also some of the warmest. I'm not kidding...I know, it's kind of surprising for a people living in a supposedly cold bloody country. But it's true, I really do believe it. 

I recently learned from my sources that there are some two hundred thousand Swedes living in London. I don't know if you realize but that is a whole lot of Swedish people living outside of Sweden. I even hear London is the third largest Swedish population in the world, after Stockholm and Gothenburg. That is pretty surreal if you ask me.

Anyhow, I came to talk about Sweden because a very important holiday, called Lucia, is nigh, and the festivities of light are soon to take place. On December 13th to be exact. Lucia, aka St Lucy, is a young lady who came with lights and sweets to brighten up the skies and souls of Sweden. Rumour has it, that back in the day, 304 AD, she was martyred by the Romans during one of the darkest days of winter, hence all the lights and the candles on her crown. 

It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. And one of the yummiest at that. You will want to try a delicious Swedish Saffron Bun, originally called the Lussekatter, at the Scandinavian Kitchen on Great Titchfield Street in Soho, at Fika on Brick Lane, at the Nordic Bakery in Golden Square, or simply try it yourself by following this recipe here.

If you're interested in finding out more about Swedish cooking in general or Swedish specialty foods especially for Lucia, go check out Totally Swedish, a cool and everything-store dedicated to Swedish stuff only on Crawford Street in Marylebone. 

There you'll be able to dig out a variety of Swedish foods and cooking ingredients, including candy (not Swedish fish), coffee, caviar, meatball gravy, pickled gherkins and herring, crisps, and ginger biscuits (Pepparkakor, the best ginger snaps you'll ever taste), as well as all types of magazines, life-changing cheese-slicers and a wide range of other fantastic nonsense. 

As for me, I'm very excited for the Lucia holiday. I get to go spend it at Met Mum's house with Little L. and lots of other beautiful people. On that note, Happy Lucia everyone!


  1. I had my first taste of Sweden this summer - bliss. Beautiful country, lakes, skies and yes, people. Sadly, there are no Swedish shops in Eindhoven, so I make do with my trips to Ikea to stock up on things.

  2. The Swedish shop... grrrrr!!! I had the most annoying phone conversation over Christmas ham, and if I could reserve one or not. "You can reserve one, but I can't promise you to have it". Huh? I mean, WTF am I supposed to do with that? I am going to feed 8 grown-ups plus a baby this Sunday. *breaks out in cold sweat*

    So I went to IKEA, only to find out that they stock most of what the Swedish store has, but for a fraction of the price. Yay for IKEA!

    Looking forward to see you! xxx MM

  3. So jealous about your Swedish jaunts! Would love to go there some day.

  4. What a lovely post. I'm a Scand-ophile too but didn't know about the Swedish shop- I must visit. I do make visits out to Ikea just for the food though- the cheese especially, the slightly holey smokey (no pun intended!) one is to die for and makes the best toasties.

    I really want to go to Lucia celebrations one year. My Swedish friends were meant to take me to church this year but they forgot and so neither they nor I could go!

    Hopefully next year though.

  5. I love the Marylebone village area, and yet have not seen this shop. Thanks for the tip!!