Sainte Catherine is celebrated on the 25th of November. Catherine of Alexandria is the patron of the barbers, wheelwrights, rope makers, drapers, schoolchild and students, wool spinners, genealogists, millers, notaries, nursemaids, speakers, philosophers, plumbers, potters, moralizer, grinders, tailors, theologicians, turners and unmarried women.
There is a long time ago, a young and beautiful woman named Catherine would have been executed about 307 for refusing marry the Emperor Maximinus. She died on 25th of November of 307. In the 12th century, her statute was exposed in all Paris’ churches and, each year, on the 25th of November, a headpiece was put on her head by the older young girls.
Thereafter, the worker women aged of 25 or more and unmarried put a paper hat on their heads. They are called “Catherinettes”. Nowadays, Catherinettes form support groups, and they can be recognized by their hats, which are yellow (for faith) and green (for wisdom), topped off by some eye-catching feature. Tradition has it that Catherinettes should wear the hat for the entire day without taking it off even indoors. Milliners in France, and elsewhere, have not been slow to produce ranges of hats to celebrate St Catherine’s Day.
The French say that before a girl reaches 25, she prays:
“Donnez-moi, Seigneur, un mari de bon lieu! Qu’il soit doux, opulent, libéral et agréable!”
“Lord, give me a well-situated husband. Let him be gentle, rich, generous, and pleasant!”
After 25, she prays :
“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!”
And when she’s pushing 30:
“Un tel qu’il te plaira Seigneur, je m’en contente!”
“Send whatever you want, Lord; I’ll take it!”
An English version goes,
St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me thine aid
And grant that I never may die an old maid.
And there is this, a fervent French prayer:
|Sainte Catherine, soyez bonne||Saint Catherine be good|
|Nous n’avons plus d’espoir||We have no hope|
|qu’en vous||3but you|
|Vous êtes notre patronne||You are our protector|
|Ayez pitié de nous||Have pity on us|
|Nous vous implorons à genoux||We implore you on our knees|
|Aidez-nous à nous marier||Help us to get married|
|Pitié, donnez-nous un époux||For pity’s sake, give us a husband|
|Car nous brûlons d’aimer||For we’re burning with love|
|Daignez écouter la prière||Deign to hear the prayer|
|De nos cœurs fortement épris||Which comes from our overburdened hearts|
|Oh, vous qui êtes notre mère||Oh you who are our mother|
|Donnez-nous un mari||Give us a husband|
This is summed up more quickly in this, an English prayer:
A husband, St. Catherine
A handsome one, St. Catherine
A rich one, St. Catherine
A nice one, St. Catherine
And soon, St. Catherine
Moreover, in honor of the Saint and of the good Catholic Queen, “Cattern Cakes” and “Tire à mélasse” are eaten during this day.