Sainte Catherine – 25th of November

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.


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This entry was posted on Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 3:00 am and is filed under Learning French . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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