Something about the story and tradition of St. Lucia and Scandinavian Christmas in general has always spoken to me. Blame it on the Kirsten Doll I got in the second grade, but I’ve always loved the home spun sweetness of a Scandinavian Christmas!
Here in the US, where we are very far from the land of reindeer and the Northern Lights, we still have our Scandinavian elements. Many Scandinavian immigrants came out to the prairie that I call home, bringing with them their customs of straw ornaments, good food, and tales of a beautiful saint bringing light and sweet goodies on a dark winter’s night.
A couple of years ago we were able to visit Lindsborg, Kansas for their St. Lucia Festival (you can read all about it in my 2012 Saint Lucia Procession Post!) and it was so magical to see the Scandinavian culture and heritage through the lens of American pioneers.
The simplicity and love of nature inherent in a Scandinavian Christmas are also very appealing to me— and I love gathering recipes and craft ideas for things to do during the holidays from my favorite Scandinavian Christmas books— like these by Trine Hahnemann and Hege Barnholt:
One thing that I LOVE about Scandinavian Christmas is that nature is so close at hand. In Lindsborg we bought sheaves of wheat to leave out for the birds, according to custom. But this year– far from Lindsborg and no wheat fields to gather from, we took inspiration from the book Handmade Scandinavian Christmas to make ”bird cakes” for our feathered friends this winter.
Audrey was very eager and willing to help out with this project— she loves watching the birds outside our windows just as much as I do, and this was a great project to get a little gooey and creative with.
The ingredients for the bird cakes were simple; we used birds seed and lard. Yep, lard. Or you can say ‘rendered fat’ if that makes you feel fancier. I know it does for me 😉
Making these little bird cake ornaments were so easy and so fun. All we did was put some big dollops of lard in a bowl, mix in some bird seed so that the lard was pretty well covered in seeds, then we rolled out the ‘dough’ to cut with cookie cutters, or roll into shape like play dough.
To be honest, the rolling method was easiest. The concoction was just a little too fluid to work well with the cookie cutters, although we had more success with some shapes than others.
In the end, the best ways to make the cakes were to roll the dough into balls, or mold it into hearts.
With some of the ornaments, I poked a hole through the middle with a wooden skewer, although some I just left whole.
When we had all the ornaments we needed, we put them on a tray and stuck them in the freezer. When they’d set (they were harder but still a bit sticky) we tied them with string to make into ornaments!
Once we had them all secure with the string (I used cotton yarn you can find for just a couple of dollars at the craft store) we took them outside and hung them on our little maple tree to entice our little feathered friends!
We had so much fun making these ornaments— and it was a pretty quick and easy project, that are good for nature as well! Since its so cold in the winter, these ornaments will keep their shape, yet they remain soft enough that the birds will be able to pick out the seeds.
The lard (or suet if you’d rather use beef fat instead of pork) is actually very good for birds during the winter. It will help them keep warm and give them an extra energy boost that is so important in keeping them healthy during the cold winter months.
You can use these little ornaments all through the winter and cool part of spring, but they are not recommended to be used during hot summer months.
So perhaps if you have a gray winter day that needs a simple and fun activity, I highly recommend this one– the birds will thank you for it!
And so….thus concludes MY St. Lucia Blog Procession Post- but we’re just getting started!
I have many friends who are joining in the fun— and you’re welcome to join in too! There is a linky tool at the end of this post where other participating blogs are listed, please take a moment and give them a visit! Perhaps with some coffee and a Lucia Bun in hand? I know my friends out here on the internet have some wonderful things to share! And please, feel free to join in the fun!
Thank you for stopping by today!~!