Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Traditions and The First Maltese Lucia Queen (part 2 by Margaret Ullrich)

Continued from part 1

Maybe the lack of sleep was affecting my mind.  

My next goal was an authentic Swedish Saint Lucia Day for our first December 13.  

According to one big fat book, a good Swedish wife got up at four a.m. to start tossing her cookies.  God forbid any sunlight should shine on the dough or disaster would befall the household.  Every hefty housefrau hoped a crescent moon was hovering on the horizon to bring good luck to the baking.  

No kidding.  Without that sliver of light she could get killed, stumbling around in the dark like that.  I really thought that if I followed the customs, my baking would get better.  I got up at four a.m. and baked.  
Okay, I cheated.  I used electric lights.  

I stitched up a long white robe and tied shining red balls to our Advent wreath.  

Then I ran into a slight problem.  According to tradition, saffron buns and coffee were served between three and four a.m. by the eldest daughter, who was dressed as the Lucia Queen.  We didn't have children and I couldn't borrow a neighbor's kid for that ungodly hour.  I had to make some changes in the sacred customs.  So, I became the first Maltese Lucia Queen in history.  I memorized the traditional poem.  

Then, when I saw how much saffron cost, I made another teeny change.  
I made cinnamon buns.   What harm could it do?  

The days flew.  It was December 13.  I was clad in white, balancing the advent wreath with bouncing red balls and gleaming white candles upon my head.  
Three a.m.  Show Time!  
I was a glowing, flaming cherries jubilee, clutching a tray laden with coffee and cinnamon buns and walking ever so slowly to our bed.  

Hovering over Paul, I began chanting:  "Night goes with silent steps..."
Hmmph.  He was snoring.  
No Swedish genes were making him wake up to behold his Lucia Queen.  
Well, after all that work, this Lucia Queen required an audience.  
Creating my own liturgy, I ad libbed. 
"Wake up, Paul." 
Still no answer.  
I set the tray down, gave him a shove that nearly pushed him out of bed and repeated: "Night goes with silent steps... Damn it!  Wake up!!"
He snorted, turned and faced me.  It took him a while to focus.  

Okay, finally, I, the Lucia Queen, was getting the respect I deserved.  
I went back to chanting, my voice building to an impressive boom.

"Night goes with silent steps round house and cottage.
O'er earth that sun forgot, Dark shadows linger.      
Then on our threshold stands white clad in candlelight,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia."

He looked.  He blinked.  He screamed.  
He said something that no one should ever say to a Lucia Queen.  

I blamed the cinnamon.  Maybe the Swedish mojo just doesn't work if one substitutes cinnamon for saffron.  There could be a dark reason behind the choice of seasoning.  
As far as I was concerned, the power unleashed by the cinnamon doomed my Christmas dreams. 

Look, if my Ma can blame religion, I can blame spices. 

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