On the 4th of December, people in Germany celebrate Barbaratag. It’s a very special day where you cut branches off a cherry tree and put it in a big vase inside your home. These cherry branches are called ‘Barbara twigs’ (Barbarazweige). The amazing thing is that at Christmas, these branches keep growing and come out in full bloom, bringing good luck to everyone in the house.
There’s a story behind Barbaratag – but it’s very sad, so if you don’t like sad stories please stop reading now.
It is said that Barbara was the daughter of a rich merchant. Her parents were not Christians but Barbara decided to become a Christian. She got baptised against her father’s will. But her father was so angry that he had poor Barbara thrown into prison. On her way to prison, a cherry branch got stuck in her dress. Barbara placed it in a jug in her prison cell and it blossomed on the day she was executed.
If you want to decorate your home with ‘Barbara twigs’, make sure you regularly give them fresh water and you don’t let them dry out by placing them near a radiator. If there aren’t any cherry branches, you can also try using branches from an apple or hazelnut tree, or lilac, which work just as well.