Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Barbaratag and Barbarazweige

December 4 is the feast day of Saint Barbara, an early Christian saint and martyr who, depending on what hagiographies one follows, hailed either from modern-day Turkey or from what is now Lebanon. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and continues to be a fairly popular saint in many parts of the world today. In the German-speaking world, her feast day is associated with the custom of the Barbarazweige or "Barbara branches," small branches of flowering trees or shrubs that are cut on this day and placed in a vase in a warm room so that hopefully they will be in bloom by Christmas. Not having access to a tree from which to cut my own, I was hoping to buy some from a florist's shop this year but unfortunately none near me is offering any flowering branches for forcing at the moment, although several definitely did later in winter in previous years.

Lovely peach blossoms partially obscuring a much less lovely sign in my neighborhood last spring

So even though my attempts at doing so this year have been foiled, I think that if you have access to suitable branches - cherry, plum, forsythia, etc. - you should give this nice custom a try. For some more information on Saint Barbara and the customs associated with her, as well as gratuitous cherry blossom pictures, you can find my previous posts on the topic here, here, and here.


  1. That's a nice tradition, and flowering branches will certainly bring some cheer indoors!

  2. Today is my Mom's birthday - how nice to learn that it celebrated with such a lovely tradition.


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