Gift Tag Round Up

Saint Lucia Unit



This is a unit I wrote 4 years ago, I decided I need to post it here. As you can see, we are very hands-on in school. I hope it inspires you.

I am lucky enough to live in Poulsbo, WA.which is a Norwegian town and is steeped in wonderful traditions. One of our favorites is at Christmas time. Poulsbo is on Liberty Bay and Saint Lucia is brought in on a Viking boat across the bay. It is sooo beautiful to see the torches from the boat and the lights from Saint Lucia's crown reflecting on the water. Saint Lucia is escorted off the boat by Vikings dressed in full gear to a bonfire which is lit. Needless to say my daughters have always been enchanted by this and this year Chloe (8) gets to be Saint Lucia. I wanted to take all these beautiful ideas and put them in a unit for our family. We will be scrapbooking this and hopefully it will be something wonderful Aubern'e and Chloe will always remember. 


I am grouping this unit by ideas. We will be reading lots of books and watching videos as we do this study. I will list the books and videos we used at the end. We are very hands on in our units. There is so much more we could have done but I have tailored this unit to fit the interests of our family. Hopefully this will be a jump off point for you.

The Ideas.....



Idea 1. Julbock-Goat

Julbock is the goat that Jultomten (Elf, like Santa) rides. There is a site on line that shows, step by step, a straw goat being made. 

 Wheat weaving crafts


Idea 2. Marzipan and Pig

There is wonderful tradition about giving a marzipan pig for good luck. We will make marzipan pigs (and maybe Santa will put one in the girls stockings, if they have been good :)

Marzipan candy  


Idea 3. Baking Cookies

Baking is such a Swedish and Norwegian tradition. There are hundreds of cookies we could bake (and will) but we will bake Peppernuts. The girls have never made them, so they will be new to them. I have a wonderful little book called " Peppernuts Plain and Fancy " by Normas Jost Voth. Which has lots of information and has 2 dozen recipes. We are going to cut our dough with a thimble. You do not have to cut the cookies this small. Here is a recipe from the book.

      Mrs. H. C. Unruh's Yule Peppernuts

      1 cup butter                   1 tsp. cinnamon
      1 cup sugar                    1/2 tsp. cloves
      1 cup brown sugar         1/4 tsp. mace
      3 eggs, beaten                3/4 cup chopped nuts
      1 lemon rind, grated        1 tsp. baking soda
      1/2 tsp. anise oil             1/4 tsp. finally ground pepper

      Pre-heat oven 350* F.
      Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to butter. Add nuts, anise, and peel. Roll dough thin and cut with thimble. Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Bake till lightly brown. 
 Here is a nice story about peppernuts..... 



Idea 4. Julenek

"Julenek," a sheaf of grain Norwegians place outside for the birds each Christmas.

We will make a Julenek. A lovely picture



Idea 5. Light

We will talk about how God's light plays a part in Christmas. Then we will make a gingerbread lantern .
A little different lantern.



Idea 6. Heart

Love plays a part of Christmas. Make Hjertekurver Swedish woven hearts. Directions for the woven heart. Here are some patterns of different types of hearts.



Idea 7. Language

Star - Stjärna {shair'-nuh } 

English/Swedish Christmas dictionary



Idea 8. Royalty

The Royal House of Norway

 The Royal Court of Sweden



Idea 9. Jultomten

Jultomten is a Christmas elf who bring presents (like Santa).

We made a Jultomten out of pine cones. Glue a wooden bead (for a head) of the top (pointed end) of a pine cone (the body). You can paint a face on the bead if you want. Glue a tuft of wool for a beard and make a little red cap out of wool.

There is a tradition of setting out a bowl of Julgrot (Christmas rice pudding) for Jultomten on Christmas eve.



Idea 10. Dalahast

Dala horse is a most recognizable symbol of Sweden. It is a painted horse.

Since I could not get these unpainted, I made them myself. They are a very simple shape. I made an armature out of foil and covered it with paper clay. After it dried, the girls could paint them themselves. Here you can see what they look like.



Idea 11. Finally, Saint Lucia

We will make a wreath for Chloe. I think I will wrap twinkle lights around a small wreath for her to wear on her head. There are wreaths with electric candles you can buy as well.

This is a great Saint Lucia site

 We will also make a star boy hat 

Paper crown and star boy hat

And of course Lussekatter, Lucia Buns
 In Scandinavian homes, the feast of St. Lucia (Dec 13) is marked by the serving of these buns. Traditionally, they are served by a young girl wearing a wreath with lighted candles on her head.

Here is a wonderful recipe from Sombra, Thank you Sombra !!!!

St. Lucia Buns 

      dried yeast 2 TBLS
      sugar 1tsp
      Lukewarm water 1/2 cup
      light cream 1 1/4 cup
      saffron threads 1/4 tsp
      sugar 3/4 cup
      flour 6 1/2 cups
      butter 1/2 cup
      ground cardamom 1 tsp
      ground blanched almonds 1/2 cup
      eggs 2
      dark seedless raisins 1/2 cup
      egg yolk 1

      Dry the saffron on a saucer in a 250 oven for 15 - 20 minutes and then crumble it with the back of a spoon. Hull the cardamom seed (reserving the pods) and grind the seeds in a mortar.

      Proof the yeast with the 1 tsp sugar in the lukewarm water. Scald the cream almost to the boiling point with the pods of the cardamom. Strain off the pods and discard. Add the saffron, remaining sugar, and butter and let stand. When lukewarm add the beaten eggs. Check temperature and add proofed yeast. Mix ground cardamom with flour and add to yeast mixture, beaten until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Turn out and let rest covered with the bowl for 15 minutes. Kneed on a well floured board until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl; cover and let rise till double. Punch down, turn out and work in raisins, reserving a few for decoration. Roll the dough into pencil thin strips and shape, as given on the opposite page, for traditional buns. Place on greased baking sheets, covered with a tea towel, and let rise till double. Brush with egg yolk beaten with 1 tbls of water Bake 12-15 minutes in 400 oven.

      The shapes for the St. Lucia buns have these names:

      Wagon Wheel
      Cut two strips 10 inches long. Place side by side, pinch together at center and coil ends. Place Raisins in center of each coil. (you'll have 4 coils joined together.

      Joseph's Beard
      Cut three strips, one 10 inches long, one 8 inches and one 6 inches. Bend shortest strip into an upside down U shape with the ends flipped up into coils. Place second longest strip underneath the U and form it into a similar shape with the ends coiled.. then do it again with the longest one.

      Cut one strip 8 inches long. Coil each end in opposite directions. Place raisin in center of each coil. 

      Cut one strip 10 inches long. Pinch at center to make a v. Coil each end downward to make horns. Place raisins in center of coil.

      Lucia Cross
      Cut two strips 6 inches long. Cross them to form an X and coil ends. Place raisins in center of each coil. 

      Star of Bethlehem
      Cut two strips 10 inches long. Shape each into a triangle. Lay one over the other, pointing in opposite directions.

      Berachah, ('blessing' in Hebrew) 


List of Sites, Videos, Books



Victorian Saint Lucia postcards 



Kristin Paper doll, click on image and save




Christmas in norway

 My favorite DVD is:   "Christmas in Norway"   


"Rogaland : The Jewel of Norway A Musical Portrait"   by Jan Kurtis Skugstad

 "The Spirit of Sweden"  by Ed Lark



Books by Carl Larson


Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydåker  

Once upon             

Another favorite Once Upon A Christmas Time by Thyra Ferre' Bjorn,  author of Papa's Wife


Annika's Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis     



Christmas in Noisy Villageby Astrid  Lindgren 


Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett       

Make a Hedgie basket to go with story

Ekte Norsk Jul Vol. 1,2, &3: Traditional Norwegian Christmas   

Norwaycolor  Swedencolor
Norway Coloring Book, Sweden Coloring Book By:Sevig, Kirsten
   More than just a coloring book, these 48-page books include crafts, recipes, songs, and traditions as well.

My Village in Norway by Sonia and Tim Gildal

Children of the Soil By Nora Burglon. This is a vintage book about a Scandinavian family.

Kristen, The American Girl books

Peppernuts Plain and Fancy by Normas Jost Voth

Olaf and Anne by Virginia Olcott

The Legend of the Christmas Rose

and another
 Thank you for the idea Susan!

Lastly I get a lot of e-mails of people looking for battery run crowns. Nordic Maiden, in Poulsbo carries them. It is a wonderful shop (we go in all the time). Please tell them Storybook Woods sent you.

Also thank you to Jody, who had hosted my unit on her site for several years xoxox 


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Margaret Sorrell

Hi, I enjoyed seeing your site.I remember a library book from my childhood (about 1971) in which a little girl puts out a julenek for the birds. Do you know which book I am remembering? I would love to find a copy of it for my children to see. Thanks, Margaret Sorrell in Georgia

Selia Renzetti

Dear Clarice,

How wonderful that Chloe will be Saint Lucia! I know she is very excited and this is a memory that she will cherish. Thank you for everything that you have shared in this amazing post!



Now I really am envious Clarice, yourtown sounds enchanting and the Viking/Scandinavian atmophere must be fantastic. I'm familiar with many of the items you listed as we have strong Viking link in our area also but nothing as colourful and memorable as yours. I will look forward to more pics soon. Tell Chloe...once whe has got over the excitement I'm expecing a view of her doll house decorated for Christmas... perhaps ith a few Carl Larson pictures on the wall!! Love Eli


I've never thought of doing a St. Lucia unit study, but with 5 girls, I think it would be a big hit. Thanks for sharing!
Love, Wendy

PS Thanks also for checking out Caroline's blog. Sorry neither you or your daughter won the purse. Maybe next time!

Tracey McBride

My Grandmother was Swedish...both her parents immigrated to the United States around the turn of the last century...so these stories speak to me very much. I love the Swedish style of decorating and the folk tales and Saint Lucia day on December 13th...the hot cross buns...the cookies and light crown on the eldest daughter. Thank you for sharing your Scandinavian adventure with us! I love all your projects and resources. You are amazing.


wow, what a fabulous post Clarice, I can only imagine all the work that all took !! I learned so much myself!! Thanks for sharing such interesting in detail, I wish you were my teacher!! :)
Thanks so much for your sweet comments too! Happy Holidays!

Hugs, Cynthia


Dear Clarice,
Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information and links.
Love, Paula

Lavender Dreamer

What a wonderful post...full of links to enjoy! I did save the paper dolls! THANKS!

Cathy Santarsiero

Thanks for posting all of that lovely information, Clarice! What beautiful traditions. Have a lovely week. Warmly, Cathy ^..^

Gumbo Lily

This really is a wonderful unit study, Clarice. I wish I had young ones to do some of the projects with. I may take an idea or two for myself.



Clarice, you mean Chloe will be on the boat? The real thing? When, I want to see her.


What a wonderful unit….

I love reading about what homeschool families do to bring
lessons alive.

A few years ago my son in laws 4th grade class got together and decided that each child would give him a
gift that represent their holiday family traditions…

It was wonderful , he received a peppermint Pig, Wok, a pickle ornament, books,
woven paper hearts, English poppers….and more.
He bought some of the items over on Christmas day so that as a family we could
Share some of his class traditions … it was the best and with each gift there was
a little note from the student explaining the tradition. I think it’s a class he will always remember…


Chloe must be so excited to be Santa Lucia. I love those old traditions from Europe. They say much about celebrating with meaning.
I just looked on a map to find Poulsbo and see that you are not too far away from me (Victoria). We're probably "enjoying" the same rainy weather today.



This is such a wonderful post filled with great ideas, Clarice!


Ohhhh, how special that Chloe is St. Lucia this year! I'm so glad I have had the joy of meeting her and being to your home, so I can picture it all. Your unit study is perfect! Great job, teacher-mom!



This is a wonderful resource Clarice. I live in a part of our city that was settled by Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, so I'm very familiar with many of these wonderful traditions. It's such a wonderful culture, I think.

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