The 4th December marks another fascinating French tradition as towns and villages across France prepare to celebrate la Sainte-Barbe. And as I have just discovered as a new villager, Saint-Etienne-du-Bois is no exception.
Sainte-Barbe, a young woman believed to have lived in the 3rd century, is thought to have been a martyr who, after being tortured with fire for becoming Christian, was executed by her own father. As a punishment, he was struck by lighting and consumed by flames. Yes, a little bit dramatic.
Sainte-Barbe is now known as the patron of all workers who use explosives such as artillerymen, military engineers, miners, and, most famously, she is the protector of firemen. Today, in Saint-Etienne-du-Bois, we gather at a ceremony held at the Fire Station and dance at the Firemen’s Ball in the name of the Sainte-Barbe, hoping she will continue to protect our firemen...and mostly toasting to her. Santé!
Exploring these old traditions has spurred us on to start preparations for Chez Mimi's first Christmas and guests. Let's hope that they enjoy seeing the Christmas tree with its fairy lights and decorations as much as we do!