Friday, 25 November 2011

Auntie Seraphic & The Catherinettes

Thanksgiving Dinner Report post below.

Hi there, Seraphic!

I teach French to little kids, and today this involved celebrating St. Catherine's Day by making taffy. Not being francophone myself, I had to look up the French Canadian tradition, and I noted that St. Catherine's Day (November 25) seems to have a lot connected to it with regards to single women.

Apparently her intercession has been invoked for the past 8 centuries by single women wanting husbands, with varying degrees of desperation. It also seems that unmarried women over the age of 25 were dubbed "Catherinettes" on St. Catherine's Day. Catherinettes would take the opportunity to send cards and treats to their fellow Catherinettes.

This made me think of your Operation Valentinus, and thought it would be fun to bring it up on your blog. Mind you, I suppose celebrating St. Catherine's Day in this way might be an unnecessary reminder of one's singlehood, and being dubbed a Catherinette might be somewhat scarring...I think it's a fun name, but then again I am still one year away from being a Catherinette myself...

Here is a link to the ever-so-reliable the sections on Canada and France:'s_Day

Anyway, I thought it might be something fun/questionably relevant to bring up on your blog tomorrow (or rather, today, since for you it must already be Nov. 25th!) I will not be offended if you don't bring it up though!

God bless,

A Reader

I did not know any of this, so I am grateful to my reader for sending this email. I strongly support the notion of Single women sending each other cards and treats to affectionately mark their shared Singleness. Sisterhood is powerful--when it really is sisterhood and not some men-are-scum-rah-rah political pose.

I am struck that a Catherinette is (or was) a Single woman who has had her 25th birthday. Some sort of black magic seems to be attributed to one's 25th birthday, which is absolutely bonkers from the point of view of a 40 year old. When I was 25, I was not very smart, but at least I had tremendously beautiful skin, no grey hairs at all and probably hundreds of healthy little eggies hidden away. You would think that, given the improvements in women's health, looks and life expectancy, we'd now go into a panic before our 35th birthday instead of our 25th, but no. Thirty-five is not-such-a-big-deal and twenty-five is woe-is-me.

Why this is, is less of a mystery the more you discover about the history of turning 25. But I think it may also be that adolescents are rather anxious and adult women rather less. You have the impression that your youth will be over when you turn 25, but then you reach 25 and 26 and 27 and realize it isn't.

If you don't have children, your youth can go on and on and on, which can be either good or bad. In my case it is good because I can hang out with twenty-somethings without them treating me like their mothers, but it is bad because in some ways I remain a feckless human being. I am sure I would be a better person if, like my mother, I did laundry every Monday and ironed it all until it was done.

Below this post is the Thanksgiving Report Post, so if you collected points yesterday, report them in the combox for that post. Meanwhile, happy Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria!


Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Oh, I am glad to have St. Catherine to ask for help! Usually I am okay with being single, but I get frustrated that I apparently don't give out any "I'm open to dating" vibes, except to someone who's 6000 miles away I may never see again.

I have heard things about St. Joseph as well. I read a true anecdote in Catholic Digest once about a girl who had been praying and praying, asking St. Joseph to find her a husband. She prayed for months, and then one day she was so frustrated she threw her little statue of St. Joseph out the window! Lo and behold, a few minutes later, someone knocked on her door. It was a man holding her statue - it'd knocked him on its descent. They started dating and got married. I'd try it myself if anyone walked in front of my house with any regularity. ;-)

aussie girl in australia said...

Hi Aunty Seraphic

It just so happens that my housemates and I had a St Catherine's Day Feast last night. We decorated the house, made sweet treats for each other, drank champagne and didn't talk about boys! We wore garlands of green and gold around our heads. We had discovered that apparently there was a tradition in France of making the Catherinettes wear a big hat with gold and green ribbons all day. This was our "nicer" version of the tradition. I made Cattern Cakes which are an English tradition to eat on St Catherine's Day. It was a lovely celebration of our lives as single women and the opportunity we have to serve God.

Catherinette in Australia

margaret said...

St Catherine was the patron saint of English lacemakers who made cattern cakes to celebrate. The unmarried girls would also take turns to leap over a lit candle and whoever leapt highest clearing the flame (shades of Beltaine) would marry in the following year. Hence the nursery rhyme, "Kit be nimble,Kit be quick, Kit jump over the candlestick" :)

Seraphic said...

So that's what that was all about! How cool!