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Celebrating Christmas in Sweden and Lussekatter Buns

Lussekatter Buns are a Swedish Saffron Bun. They are a part of the Christmas celebration in Sweden. They are served the morning of December 13th for breakfast.

We are continuing on in our Christmas series. Today we are looking at Celebrating Christmas in Sweden.

My great grandfather immigrated from Sweden. Like Germany, I discovered some of our traditions came from Sweden. We had an angel chime that is beautiful. It is a Swedish tradition.

The main celebration for Christmas in Sweden is on December 13th. It is St. Lucia Day. St. Lucia was a young girl who was martyred for her faith. She would wear candles on her head to keep her hands free to carry things. She brought food to the persecuted Christians in Rome who hid in the catacombs.

The girls wear white dresses with red sashes around their waist to celebrate St. Lucia Day. The oldest girl in the family also wear a wreath with 7 candles in it on their heads. The boys are Star Boys. They wear white robes and a hat that is cone shaped with stars on it.

Traditionally the oldest girl would wake up the family at dawn and serve the family Lussekatter, a pastry, in bed with glögg or coffee. Glögg is a type of mulled wine.

Christmas Eve is also a big day in Sweden. It is the day they have their main Christmas meal. It is quite a feast. The amount of food is astonishing. I’m writing this post after I’ve had dinner and am very full. The amount of food almost makes me sick. I’m finding it nearly impossible to list it for you.

The meal on Christmas eve is often a julbord or a buffet and is eaten at lunch time. The word julbord actually translates to Christmas in English.  The julbord consists of cold meats: turkey, roast beef, and Christmas ham. It also has cheeses, liver pate, salads, pickles and different types of bread and butter.

There will also be warm savory foods including meatballs, sausages, meat stuffed cabbage rolls, jellied pigs’ feet, lutfisk (a dried cod served with a thick white sauce) and oven-roasted pork ribs. Vegetables such as potatoes and red cabbage will also be served.

I decided to try my hand at making the Lussekatter Buns


Yield: 24 Buns

Lussekatter Buns

Lussekatter Buns

Lussekatter Buns are a Swedish Saffron Bun. They are a part of the Christmas celebration in Sweden. They are served the morning of December 13th for breakfast.

Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes


Prepare ahead of time

  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/4 cups raisins


  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups flour

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp water


Preparation ahead of time

  1. In a small bowl, crush saffron threads with the back of a spoon until it is a powder.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp milk and set aside.  Allow to sit for 1-2 hours. Stirring occasionally to dye milk.
  3. Add raisins and warm water in a small bowl to plump raisins. 


  1. In a small bowl, heat milk to 80 degrees. Stir in 2 Tbsp of the sugar into the milk. Add yeast and stir. Allow to proof for 8-10 minutes. 
  2. While yeast proofs, add remaining sugar, saffron milk, butter, and egg to mixing bowl. 
  3. Once yeast is finished proofing, add it to mixing bowl. Mix until blended.
  4. Add salt and flour one cup at a time. Mix until dough comes together.
  5. Knead for 5-6 minutes adding flour as needed. I kneaded it by hand. It did not do well in the mixer.
  6. Place dough is a bowl and cover with a clean towel. I usually heat the oven to 170 and then turn it off. Then place the dough inside to rise. Allow to rise for 60 - 90 minutes
  7. Once the dough has risen, turn out on counter and knead it a little. Divide it into 24 pieces. Roll them into balls.
  8. Roll each ball into a short snakes. Then roll the short snakes into 13 inch snakes.  The dough tends to bounce back. Rolling them in stages allows it rest and roll out better.
  9. Twist each snake into a S shape with swirls at each end. Place on baking sheet with parchment paper. Do this with 12 at first.
  10. Drain raisins and pat dry. Mix egg wash with a fork. 
  11. Place a raisin in each swirl. So 2 per bun. Brush each with egg wash. Cover buns with clean towel and allow to rise for 20-30 minutes or until they have doubled in size. 
  12. Preheat oven to 425.
  13. Repeat with the other 12 buns.
  14. Once they have doubled in size, bake for 8 - 10 minutes. 
  15. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and Enjoy.

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This post is part of our Christmas Around the World series.


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