Wednesday, 5 December 2007

St, Barbara's Day

Yesterday, December 4th, was St.Barbara's Day in Germany. I learned about this tradition some years ago though my friend Gabi. Every year on this day she cuts a branch from her forsythia. The branch is placed in water, indoors, and is supposed to bloom on Christmas day. My forsythia is new, from this summer, and still too small to cut any branches. So I decided to cut a small branch from my cherry tree instead. The cherry tree is also still very small, but it gave me one branch :-)
Barbara, the daughter of the rich merchant Dioscuros, grew up in Nikomedia (today's Izmet, Turkey). In order to retain her innocence, Barbara's father locked her up during his absence, in a tower with only two windows. When Dioscuros returned from his journey, he found the third window in the tower. Barbara was baptized by a priest disguised as a physician, and she ordered to make the third window as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
As it was done against her father's will, Barbara was accused, tortured and condemned to death. A branch of cherry tree had gotten caught in its dress, when she was locked into the dungeon. Barbara watered it with the water from her drinking cup, and on the day of her execution which the angry father had personally made (in the winter of 306), the branch bloomed.. From this comes the "Barbarazweig," the custom of bringing branches into the house on December 4 to bloom on Christmas. In some areas St. Barbara's is also the day to bake
Kletzenbrot (a fruit cake).
The information about St. Barbara Day is taken from here.


Barbara said...

We always cut some Barbarazweige from various plants. They always bloom after about a fortnight when keeping in the warmth. Another legend says, that it were the tears of Barbara who brought the branch to blossom. I think it is a nice tradition.

Donetta said...

This is a lovely tradition. I find it fascinating the traditions holding the lessons of history so close to our hearts and minds.

Britt-Arnhild said...

Hi Barbara - your name is of course perfect for this day and tradition :-)

Donetta - I always find traditions important

Ewa said...

very interesting story, that I didn't hear before - thank you!