The Saint Barbara Feast Day: A Christmas Tradition in Provence

There are many Provencal Christmas traditions! Celebrated on December 4, the Saint Barbara Feast Day marks the beginning of preparations for Christmas, and is one of its most respected customs. Let the magic happen!
By Justine Fiordelli

In Provence, you cannot celebrate Christmas without respecting the tradition of Saint Barbara. Invoked against lightning and sudden death, she is the patron saint of miners, as well as being also invoked by young unmarried girls. Saint Barbara was kidnapped by her father Dioscorus during the third century to remove her from the temptations of the world. On 4 December each year, the people of Provence prepare the Saint Barbara wheat with love. Available in all bakeries in the area, families plant it in three different saucers called "seitoun" which symbolize health, money and fertility. Each must be lined with damp cotton wool and watered every day in order for the wheat to flourish.

The legend says that if the wheat grows abundantly, the coming year will be prosperous, as the famous saying suggests: "When the Saint Barbara wheat sprouts well, it is a symbol of prosperity for the coming year." On the evening of December 24, these saucers are distributed around the table as decoration. Upon return from midnight mass, the wheat is cut and spread out in the crib to welcome the divine child. More than just a custom, the Saint Barbara Feast Day serves as a genuine Christmas tradition in Provence, and a wonderful moment for all the family.

The Saint Barbara
The Saint Barbara
Wheat of Saint Barbara
DR

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