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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebrating St. Catherine’s Day

November 25 is St. Catherine’s day in France. Sadly it is hardly celebrated these days and is considered outdated by many.

What is special about this day?

St. Catherine is the patron saint of young unmarried ladies who haved reached 25 and are still unmarried. Called Les Catherinettes, in the past the young ladies sent cards to each other and according to tradition would ask St Catherine to help them find a husband. According to history, a girl’s prayer before reaching 25 would be :

"Donnez-moi, Seigneur, un mari de bon lieu! Qu'il soit doux, opulent, libéral et agréable!" This translates as -- "Lord, give me a well-situated husband. Let him be gentle, rich, generous, and pleasant!"

The prayer changed as the Catherinettes reach 25 to:

Seigneur, un qui soit supportable, ou qui, parmi le monde, au moins puisse passer!"
"Lord, one who's bearable, or who can at least pass as bearable in the world!"

When she reached 30 the prayer had a more drastic tone:

Un tel qu'il te plaira Seigneur, je m'en contente!"  -- "Send whatever you want, Lord; I'll take it!"

Long ago, friends of Catherinettes would make hats for them- the color yellow for faith and green for wisdom.

The Catherinettes wore these all day so they could be recognized and they would be invited out by friends.

But it was the clever, creative and daring milliners who did well here- they got a chance to create, an opportunity to show off their elaborate creations, and they even won competitions.

Much of that is over now – no more pretty hats, no excuse to dress up.

All that is left is the French saying that winter begins on St. Catherine’s Day.

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