St Barbara’s day is celebrated by Christians in the Levant countries of Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, on the eve of the 3rd and on the 4th of December in honour of St Barbara, one of Christianity’s first martyr saints.
St Barbara’s legend, which is commonly believed to have originated in Baalbek – Lebanon, tells the story of a 3rd-century daughter of a rich pagan who against her father’s will converted to Christianity. Defying her father brought suffering and pain upon her. And in her attempt to hide from her father, Barbara had to disguise wearing different masks. The legend tells of wheat growing around her to help her hide from her father who eventually was the one to behead her.
To commemorate St Barbara’s legend, people put on masks and grow wheat seeds on this special day. They also prepare a beautiful wheat pudding for the occasion called Burbara.
Burbara recipes might differ from one region to another but it is basically cooked wheat that has aniseeds, cinnamon, and sugar added to it. Its topping can vary but usually consists of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pomegranate and dried fruits such as apricots and raisins. This heart warming dessert is a beautiful celebration of history, values and tradition.