Cutting St. Barbara twigs is an old tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. According to legend, a cherry tree twig, which Saint Barbara placed in a vase on her way to prison, is said to have blossomed completely unexpectedly on the day of her death. Thus the custom and the blossoming of the buds should bring life, light and joy to the dark season – in memory of Saint Barbara.
St. Barbara twigs are cut on 4th December, the feast day of Saint Barbara. Suitable twigs are fruit tree twigs (cherry, apple, pear, Chaenomeles) or also twigs of the witch-hazel, forsythia or lavender. Horse chestnuts also produce good results. These twigs may only be cut after the frost so that the dormancy period is interrupted and the sprouting capacity is encouraged. If there has been no frost up to then, simply place the twigs in the freezer for two days.
Those now wishing to do things perfectly should place the twigs overnight in a cool room, then again for half a day in warm water, e.g. in the bath. Before placing the St. Barbara twigs in the vase, you should mix the vase water with a special freshness retainer for woody twigs. Cut off two to three centimetres of the twig at an angle at the lower end. Then place the twigs in a spacious vase in which they stand in deep water. Put this vase in a light, warm place. Now you have a good chance that your Barbara twigs will blossom by Christmas.