Syrian children mark Saint Barbara's Day

Syrian children mark Saint Barbara's Day
Feature: Syrian children find some joy on Saint Barbara's Day by wearing fancy dresses and eating traditional sweets, and for a brief moment forget the horrors engulfing their homeland.
2 min read
04 December, 2015
On Saint Barbara's Day people celebrate by wearing fancy dress [Twitter]

Many Syrian children look forward to Eid al-Barbara (Saint Barbara's Day), celebrated in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey) by wearing costumes and eating traditional food on the evening of 4 December.

On Saint Barbara's Day, children in several Syrian towns go out in costumes and disguises and knock on their relatives and neighbours doors to wish them well and - more importantly - collect sweets.

Syrian hotels and restaurants also put on special fancy dress parties for the occasion.

The traditional sweet associated with Saint Barbara's Day in Syria is Qatayef, which is made from boiled wheat grains, sugar, cinnamon, anise and nuts.


"This sweet is linked in my memory to Eid al-Barbara. My mum used to tell us the story of how Saint Barbara fled through the fields of wheat, and was concealed from her father's eyes by the wheat spikes," said Fadi from Aleppo.

Saint Barbara is said to have sacrificed herself for her Christian beliefs.

There are different versions of the story.

The Syrian tradition is that Barbara's father, an aristocrat and ardent pagan worshipper killed Barbara with his own hands on 4 December 303, for refusing to renounce Christianity and for rejecting an arranged marriage.

Barbara fled though freshly planted wheat fields that miraculously grew and covered her path, according to tradition.

On this day - and sometimes also on the previous evening - Syrian children would sing special Barbara songs and go trick or treating like on Halloween's day.

Jeannette from Damascus and a group of young Syrians have this year planned a fancy dress party for 11 young men and women and 35 children, half of them orphans.

"We prepared several colourful fancy dresses and we will perform a small theatrical production for them," Jeannette said.

Jeannette has been helping organise parties for this occasion for three years.

"The children today are in need for joy more than any other time in the past."

 My daughter, my life. #Eid_al-Barbara