St. Barbara and the blossoming branch

Saint Barbara died for her faith in 306. Her memorial day is 4. December. A legend tells how a brave young woman established the custom of St. Barbara’s branches.

Barbara branches bloom at Christmas

There is a rich tradition around St. Barbara. In addition to her role as bringer of gifts before Christmas, to this day on the 4. December cut branches of fruit trees and put them in water. For these Barbara branches are used: Sour cherry, apple, pear, plum, lilac, linden and cherry.

The commemoration day of Barbara is at the beginning of the new church year. The twigs were used as a means to see the future: According to regional folklore, the blossoming of Barbara’s branches means good luck in the coming year.

3 tricks: How to make Barbara branches bloom at Christmas

Video: On 4. December is Barbara Day

The saint’s story: Barbara learned about Christianity

Barbara probably lived at the end of the 3. In the middle of the nineteenth century in what is now Izmit in Turkey. There, according to legend, she died on 4. December in 306 for her faith. As a pretty young woman, she was supposed to marry according to her father’s will and be kept from adopting the Christian faith.

Barbara learned about Christianity through her teachers. Since her father was wealthy, he had her well educated and for this purpose furnished her a room in a tower. She was baptized and had a bathroom built, which she used as a prayer room. To the two existing windows, she had a third one added – symbolizing the Trinity. According to tradition, she is the first confessor of the Trinity. The tower is one of the attributes with which she is depicted and represented.

St. Barbara was beheaded by her own father

Her father learned of her faith when he wanted to marry her off to a rich young man. Barbara fled from the tower and hid among rocks. A shepherd boy betrayed her to the father. The latter tortured his daughter and brought her to the burgrave Martian, who was to condemn her to death for high treason.

Barbara remained faithful to her faith despite torture. On the way to the prison, she got her robe caught on a branch. She put the broken branch in a vessel with water. It bloomed on the day she died for her faith. In prison, an angel is said to have nursed her wounds. Barbara was brave and steadfast. Martian condemned her to death by beheading.

Barbara was driven naked to a hill and beheaded by her own father. Before that, she is said to have been promised that after her death she could be called upon as an intercessor against a sudden death without receiving the sacrament of death. After the execution, according to legend, the father was struck by lightning.

St. Barbara is, among other things, the patron saint of miners

Since, according to legend, St. Barbara was protected by a rock during her escape, the miners chose her as their patron saint. That is why she is often depicted with mining tools. Especially in the mining regions of Bohemia, Silesia and Saxony, the saint has been celebrated since 14. Century as Patronin venerated.

Barbara is also considered the patron saint of the dying. The legend says that no one who invokes it will die without receiving the sacrament of death. Saint Barbara stands for bravery and steadfastness.

Barbara is patroness of the

  • Miners
  • Dying
  • Artillerymen
  • Builders
  • Tower guards
  • Firemen
  • Bell founders and bell ringers

On St. Barbara’s Day, children put out their shoes

At the beginning of the 20. Century became from the Barbaratag particularly in the Rhine country a day of the gifts. Similar to St. Nicholas Day, children put out a shoe, which is filled with sweets and fruit.

Until the 1960s, St. Barbara’s Day marked the beginning of the Christmas gift-giving season, especially in the Cologne-Bonn area and the Lower Rhine region. Barbara gave gifts to the children and was considered to be the bearer of gifts.

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