Friday, June 14, 2024 UTC



St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners, artillerymen and firemen. Her traditional feast day is December 4th. According to legend, her father, a pagan emperor, persecuted Christians. He kept her a virgin by locking her up in a tower when he was away. One day he returned home noticing the tower with 3 instead of 2 windows. He learned she become a Christian and the 3 windows represented the Trinity of her new faith, thus he imprisoned her. While imprisoned she found and watered a dried up cherry tree branch. It blossomed & its beauty consoled her during her impending execution. Following her execution her father was struck dead by lightning (this is why St. Barbara is invoked during thunderstorms).

Barbarazweig: The Barbara Branch Custom – Traditionally in Austria and Catholic regions of Germany, a small cherry branch is cut and placed in water in a warm place on December 4th, St. Barbara’s Day. If all goes well and it blooms precisely on December 25th, then this is a good sign for the future.

Also, St. Barbara is also associated with the wheat. Legend says that Barbara fleed from Roman persecution when she ran through a field of freshly planted wheat. As she ran, the wheat grew instantly, covering her path and protecting her from those chasing her. In France and Ukraine, the seeds of wheat are planted on her feast day in 3 small saucers (representing the Holy Trinity). The faster & taller the wheat grows, the more prosperous the new year will be.

In Armenia, Syria and Lebanon, the Christmas season begins on December 4, the feast of St. Barbara. They prepare a traditional wheat pudding desert called Kamhié (Dessert for St. Barbara’s Day). While the wheat is cooking during the preparation of this traditional desert, the head of the household is supposed to tell the legend of St. Barbara. The recipe follows:


  • 3 c. wheat, whole grain OR prepare traditional oatmeal
  • 8 c. water, boiling
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. raisins, golden
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 c. almonds, chopped
  • 2/3 c. candied mixed peel
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1 c. sugar, or a mixture of half sugar and half honey
  • Topping
  • cinnamon sugar
  • walnuts or pistachios, chopped or grated


Wash grain thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well and put into a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. A slow cooker may be used instead. Add the salt and 8 cups of boiling water, cover tightly and simmer slowly until the wheat is soft but not mushy. This may take 4 to 6 hours.  OR prepare traditional oatmeal.

The consistency should be similar to that of porridge. If there is too much liquid, it should be drained.

Continuing to cook the grain over low heat, (or after preparation of oatmeal) stir in the raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, mixed peel, sugar and rose water. Stir until sugar is dissolved and the mixture thick and moist.

Remove from heat and spoon into individual dessert dishes or one large bowl. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar and the chopped walnuts or pistachios.




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