There are several lesser known feast days or celebrations that fall between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Often these are observed within the ethnic communities of their origin.
Adding one or more of these celebrations to your families’ holiday traditions can introduce diversity into the holiday festivities.
December 4; St. Barbara’s Day
Saint Barbara can be traced back to the third century, where she was imprisoned by her father to protect her from the outside world. While in prison Barbara secretly became a Christian, and when she refused to participate in Pagan rites, was tortured and put to death by her father. Barbara’s father was struck and killed by lighting and she went on to become the patron saint of gunsmiths and artillerymen and the protector against lightning, fire, storms and sudden death.
St. Barbara is associated with the harvest and wheat and other plants that bear her name including Barbara vulgaris or winter cress.
Celebrate St. Barbara’s Day with a confection made from puffed wheat, rose water and sugar. Lightly sprinkle puffed wheat cereal with rose water, then roll in vanilla flavored sugar. Place in a 100 degree oven for 15 minutes to dry. Store in an air tight container.
December 6; St. Nicholas Day
Everyone knows the name of St. Nicholas but this precursor to our Santa Claus was a fourth century bishop that was known for giving gifts to the poor. St. Nicholas is the protector of children, orphans, the poor, weak and those held captive. He is the patron saint of sailors, laborers, pawn brokers, the common man and emperors.
Dutch sailors brought their patron saint with them to New Amsterdam , now New York , and Sinter Claus became Santa Claus.
Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with a seafood dinner. In earlier day’s children in Holland left wooden shoes on their door step. Have the children leave their shoes at the doorway so St. Nicholas can leave a small gift, maybe a small bag of gold covered chocolate coins or a small toy.
December 13: St. Lucia Day
St. Lucia Day is a traditional Swedish Celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights or Little Christmas. This is the highlight of the advent season in Sweden . St. Lucia gives sight to the blind, food to the hungry and light to the world.
Swedish families celebrate this festival on the shortest day of the year with the eldest daughter waking the family with coffee and buns flavored with saffron and cardamom, wearing a long white gown and a crown of lighted candles. Celebrate by serving your family Santa Lucia Buns or sweet rolls glazed with cardamom frosting on a candle lit breakfast table.
Source: Herbal Notes by Jackie Hardin 1982