Saint Catherinette is a very old French tradition dating back to the 16th century celebrated on the 25th of November every year. It is a special celebration offered to unmarried women who have hit the age of twenty-five by making fancy hats for them which they carry through the entire festive day with a hope that they find a husband soon.
From the medieval ages, women were under the protection of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She converted to Christianity following a vision and refused to marry from the very onset. Roman emperor Maxentius who persecuted Christians proposed to her to give up her faith in exchange for a royal marriage. She refused and claimed that she had contracted a mystical marriage with Christ. Ever since she was nicknamed as “The Bride of Christ”.
Since St. Catherine was the patroness of Europe, women participated in the devotion groups dedicated to her and on the 25th of November every year capped her statue with a beautiful headdress. But the young women after marrying, left the group hence ‘capping Saint Catherine’ became, for a woman, synonymous to being still single at/after 25. Since then, a special celebration is extended to all the unmarried women on this day wherein a hat is specially made for them on the occasion and everyone wishes them a fast end to their singlehood. The colors Green and yellow predominate in these extravagant hats that these unmarried women (referred to as “Catherinettes”) carry throughout this festive day. The green color symbolizes the hope of getting married while the yellow color symbolizes wisdom acquired over the years. Check out some pictures of outrageous hats from St Catherine’s day!
Following changes in society and lifestyle changes, this tradition has progressively died down. However, it still exists in smaller towns and villages and some parts like Vesoul in the east and Paris as well. At Vesoul, they carry out a contest of Catherinettes, on the sidelines of the agricultural fair. Although the tradition has now been slightly modified wherein, single women of minimum 25 years parade wearing yellow and green hats and compete for the standing of “the most beautiful girl to marry”.
Over time, headdresses were replaced with hats, and hence Catherinettes wear a hat on November 25th every year.
Looking for ways to embarrass your unmarried female friends? Try this fun french tradition out!
Alternatively, join other catherinettes in France and celebrate with them Saint Catherine’s day. Book your France trip now with Pickyourtrail!