The feast of Santa Barbara is traditionally celebrated in the night of December 3 to 4.
Who's Santa Barbara?
Patron Saint of the gunners, firefighters, miners, she was born in Baalbeck (this information is hardly verifiable). The Saint, converted to Christianity, chased by her father and her henchmen, hid before being caught, imprisoned and killed by the hand of her father, who died after his crime.
What do the Lebanese do during the Feast?
Many customs are associated with the Feast: dancing, making noise and singing "Hechlé Barbara", a traditional Lebanese air. We dress up too! Would it be related to the different costumes, masks that had to wear Saint Barbara to escape her persecutors?
The date of 4 December corresponds to the beginning of the Advent. Close to the recently installed crib, we sprinkle wheat grains on wet cotton. Saint Barbara would have hidden from her pursuers in a wheat field. If wheat grew well at Christmas time, it augurs a good year to come.
Last but not least, what would be a Feast without the dishes, the candies? During her torments, the terrible jailers (unfortunatly Saint Barbara finally falls into the hands of those who want her death) give her only bitter food.
But when she ate the infamous boiled, she turned them into deliciously sweet, once in her mouth. No doubt these sweets were similar to Atayef, pancakes with milk cream or cooked wheat mixed with pistachio nuts sprinkled with a syrup called Ater.
We wish all the Christians in the East and all those who help them and pray for them a good and happy Feast of Saint Barbara.