Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Feast of St. Barbara

This year I purchased a Mexican calendar again so I can keep up with all the saints that are honored with fireworks at 6AM. 

I was surprised to see that St. Barbara was on there for December 4th - her day as I was growing up.
My mother,  a devout Catholic, would make a big deal about our saint's day.  Having grown up as a Catholic and gone to Catholic girls' school for part of my education, the saints were a big deal for everyone.

In fact, back in those days, it was basically unheard of not to name your child for a saint.  Don't think today there is a Saint Tiffany, Saint North, well you get my drift.

At some point, after I left the Catholic Church, I heard that Saint Barbara had been stripped of her sainthood.  Don't remember why or how, but I remember thinking,. "Well no wonder if I prayed to her for
all those years nothing happened."

Hence my surprise, today, December 4th, on the Mexican calendar it is the Feast of St. Barbara.  However, one would not know that as I never heard fireworks.......


Retired Teacher said...

Happy Saint's Day! From what I understand, it was common to name a child after the saint on whose day he/she was born... so the saint's day and the birthday were one and the same. I pity the child who was born on the day of someone like Santa Eulalia!
I didn't know that St. Barbara had been stripped of sainthood. Wasn't she the patron saint of soldiers, or something like that?

Droelma said...

First of all; Happy Saint's Day to you !
I think in Germany and other German speaking countries nobody cares if St.a Barbara has been defrocked or not. The day still plays an important role in the folk culture during " Advent ".
I, like you went to catholic schools ( imagine 13 years of Ursulines and Dominican nuns, plus living in a catholic wonder I am no longer catholic ) and used to be very interested, especially in the lives of female saints.
For the Barbara Custom traditionally in the German-speaking countries, particularly in Austria and the Catholic regions of Germany, a small cherry branch is cut off and placed in water on December 4th, the Barbaratag (St. Barbara’s Day). Sometimes a twig from some other flowering plant or tree may be used: apple, forsythia, plum, lilac, or similar blossoms. But it is the cherry tree that is most customary and authentic. This custom is known as Barbarazweig ( Barbara branch ).
It is believed that the legend started after her imprisonment and execution by her father, and led (so they say) to the Christmas custom that bears her name.
Depressed and alone in her cell, Barbara found a dried up cherry tree branch which she moistened daily with a few drops from her drinking water. She was greatly consoled by the beautiful cherry blossoms that appeared just days before her execution. At least that is part of the story children were told when I was little after cutting and putting up the branch.
If the Branch flowers ( showing leaves is good, blossom buds are even better) in the time between Dec.24th and Januaty 6th is is considered a very good omen for the next year.

Droelma said...

Yes, St. Barbara was/is the patron saint of miners, fire fighters and most of all of soldiers, especially artillery men. Many families in Germany celebrated the day , even if they were not catholic after the war to either remember their fallen soldiers, or celebrate that their sons, fathers or husbands had safely returned.
I can imagine that now, so many years after the war this significance has been largely forgotten.

Droelma said...

since I am a curious person I did some snooping around on the internet and found the following. I was never aware how popular St. Barbara really is. I always thought it was just a quaint old German custom.

The Spanish word santabárbara, the corresponding Italian word Santa Barbara, and the obsolete French Sainte-Barbe signify the powder magazine of a ship or fortress. It was customary to have a statue of Saint Barbara at the magazine to protect the ship or fortress from suddenly exploding. She is the patron of the Italian Navy.

Saint Barbara’s Day, December 4, is celebrated by the British (Royal Artillery, RAF Armourers, Royal Engineers), Australian (Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, RAAF Armourers), Canadian (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians (EOD), Canadian Air Force Armourers, Royal Canadian Artillery, Canadian Military Field Engineers, Royal Canadian Navy Weapons Engineering Technicians), New Zealand (RNZAF Armourers, RNZA, RNZN Gunners Branch) armed forces. Additionally, it is celebrated by Irish Defence Forces Artillery Regiments, Norwegian Armed Forces Artillery Battalion, United States Army and Marine Corps Field and Air Defense Artillery, many Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians, and other artillery formations. The units and sub-units celebrate the day with church parades, sports days, guest nights, cocktail parties, dinners and other activities. Several mining institutions also celebrate it, such as some branches of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. The West Australian Mining Club celebrate St Barbara's Day and use it to remember those people who have died working in the mining industry during the year. Although they do not celebrate her saint's day, she is also the patron saint of US Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Ordnancemen.

Santa Barbara Night is celebrated by the Norwich University Independent Battery.

Lynne (WinnieViews) said...

Happy St. Barbara Day! Pretty cool to be named after a saint (even if you got no fireworks today!).

Babs said...

Wow, Droelma, thanks for all the info.....Amazing! I was raised by American parents whose parents were from Germany. I have NO idea why I was named Barbara other then the fact that it was a popular name at that time.
I never all of this information.

Babs said...

Lynn, thanks for your ocmment. WHERE are you now? ARE you heading this way?

Babs said...

Bill, after reading your comment, I never thought about having a horrible name. Since my birthday is in April, obviously I wasn't named after Barbara because of that reason. Thanks for ocmmenting.

Steve Cotton said...

Your fireworks were going off in my neighborhood this morning. Just thought you would like to know someone was giving a boost to your Saint's Day. I suspect another lady may have actually been the center of the loud banging.

Babs said...

That's interesting Steve - I don't ever remember hearing fireworks over there on the coast! As you know, we have them ALL the time here....

Barbara Lane said...

Oh I love learning all about her! Thank you everyone. I'm not catholic though do enjoy all the hoopla (will I put anyone off if I say they put on a great show?).

My birthday is also in April (the 13th) and all I know about why I was named Barbara is that my father chose the name. No idea why.

Didn't realize yesterday was St. Barbara's day - though I doubt she'd mind I give her a belated toast!

Babs said...

Barbara, when I moved to SMA there was only one other Barbara. Now there must be at least a dozen. It WAS a very popular name for our generation, obviously.

The Catholic Church is steeped in traditions and ceremonies. I've gone the more simplistic and spiritual way for the last 35 years.
Wow, even our birthdays are close!

Anonymous said...

Happy saint's day! I also am a recovering Catholic; went to Catholic girls school from kinder through college! I love the picture of St.Barbara...the flowing hair! It was a good idea to get that Mexican calendar to have a schedule of the fireworks :)