La Fête des Catherinettes is a french festival that takes place on 25 November to celebrate patron saint Catherine and women of the age of 25 who are not yet married.
Catherine of Alexandria lived and was executed during the 4th century and it was some 9 centuries later that she was made the patron saint of unmarried women.
The tradition of celebrating Saint Catherine, dates back to as early as 14th century and would see the unmarried women, known as the Catherinettes, send postcards to each other, whilst their friends would make hats for them. The hats, which were often outrageous, were made in the traditional colours of the saint; yellow for faith and green for wisdom, and after being "crowned" the young ladies would have to wear them for the whole day.
Participating in group pilgrimages to the statue of the saint, the Catherinettes would ask for her to intercede in finding husbands. By way of offering their devotion the women would then follow the tradition of "capping" the statue.
Following the changes in society over the years this custom progressively died out in France.
Whilst the day no longer holds the same relevance in French society today, it is historically still a day of importance in France.
Chapeaux et Coiffures de Sainte Catherine
Saint Catherine, is also the patron saint of Haute Couture and milliners and in a bid to honour the saint, hat makers and hats, milliners such as Stephen Jones and fashion houses, such as Dior & Chanel, have revived this tradition with a unique Parisian Haute Couture event which includes a fashion show and evening ball.
Milliners set to work to design the wonderful and wacky traditional green and yellow hats that are to be worn on the day of the festival. Once more, unmarried girls of 25 become Catherinettes and queens for the day. They are crowned by their employers in hats themed to their professions where they then parade through the streets of Paris. However, it must be noted, these 21st century girls, wearing these wonderful and outrageous hats, are not looking for husbands!
The french say that before 25 a girl prays:
"Give me Lord a good husband. Let him be soft, opulent, liberal and pleasant"
After 25 she prays:
"Lord, one who is bearable, or at least pass as bearable in the world"
And approaching 30 she prays:
"Such as you please lord, I'm happy with it"
In 2019, the Chapeaux et Coiffures de Sainte Catherine was held on 22 November at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées sadly whilst there will probably not be any great celebrations this year, we can hope and look forward to 2021.
And if, there are any unmarried ladies out there reading this that are aged, 25 or above (!) why not just don a fabulous hat on the 25th anyway? I know I will!
We could all do with more days to wear a hat and we love this 25th November tradition!