For the winter issue of The Carton magazine, entitled A Proustian Memory, a piece of writing that I submitted was published and I couldn’t get any prouder to be part of such cultural publication. This piece revisits my memories of the period of Saint Barbara’s day through Christmas with scents, sights, and flavors.
UPDATE: I have updated some of the photos on December 2, 2016. Excuse me for having the three-year-old photos. I will change them once I can take new ones this year!
Happy people in the streets.
Kids are collecting candy (and money) and roaming the streets in masks.
This is how we celebrate the day of Saint Barbara. It is not Halloween and I might not know how it all started and what’s the4 original story but it’s a tradition we love.
Bear with me for I’m gonna go with my personal opinion here. If you’re uninterested, skip this paragraph.
I’m not sure how this day was celebrated, but I’m pretty sure it contained less ugly and scary masks and costumes. We used to go visit homes in groups dressed up in costumes ranging from cute, funny, adorable to regular. We used to have fun confusing people trying to guess who we are. They would start guessing, with the help of a list of questions in their heads: a relative, a friend, someone they know, the familiarity of the shoes, the dress, the height, who is accompanying us, who we sound like, and the list goes on until someone cracks the code and our identities are revealed one by one. It used to be fun. Our relatives give us money and strangers give us candy. We save the money for Christmas. Now most of the children dress up in scary, mutated, dead (and undead) costumes. People greet each other with happy Halloween and they decorate in a way that St. Barabara’s day is replaced with Halloween. I don’t like how this is turning. Don’t get me wrong, I like Halloween and the tradition that goes around it even though we don’t relate culturally. Halloween IS about being scary to ward off unwanted spirits. This is how we celebrate St. Barbara’s Day (From Wikipedia)
Enough with me ranting.
Our tradition on this day is sweets.
LOTS OF SWEETS
Like it’s any different elsewhere, hehe.
My mom this time has prepared my favorite: whole wheat berries infused with anise, mixed with sugar, topped with coconut shreds and adorned with almonds, raisins, and ground pistachio and walnuts. Mine always has less sugar because I like to enjoy the full flavor of the wheat and anise.
The other type of sweets we prepare is a’atayef. It is a cup-wide pancake-like dough filled with ashta, clotted cream, sprinkled with coarsely ground pistachio or walnuts and drizzled with syrup. It can also be decorated with orange blossom petal jam.
I love it when we make these sweets at home. I feel a certain bliss that can’t be found when you buy them ready-made. One of my goals on this blog is to be able to gather as many recipes and keep that bliss by make everything I can at home.