November 21st, 2017 by

Traditional Millinery Days – What is St Catherine’s Day all about?

Throughout the calendar year, there are a series of annual events that have been touted as traditional historic millinery days. St Catherine’s Day is one such event that has retained its popularity over the course of many generations.

Dating as far back as the 10th century, St Catherine’s Day, held on November 27th annually, was instituted by the Catholic Church as the official memorial date of the death of St Catherine by Roman Emperor Maximinus II in 305 AD.

Catherine of Alexandria, an intelligent woman of noble birth, was one of 14 individuals tasked by the church to convert Maximinus II to Christianity, and correct him of his worship of false gods and his persecution of Christians.

Unsuccessful, the emperor instead proposed to marry Catherine. When she refused, claiming that she was already married to Jesus, Maximinus II ordered Catherine to be put to her death.

A first century martyr and regarded as patron saint of milliners, St Catherine continues to be recognised throughout the world of millinery today. Since the 10th century, a variety of customs have arisen, but none more prominent than the St Catherine’s millinery tradition.

As part of this custom, young unmarried women aged 25 or more who were known as ‘Catherinettes’ would celebrate St. Catherine’s Day by attending a traditional St. Catherine’s Day ball to find a suitable spouse.

The Cathrinettes would wear extraordinary hats in a variety of shapes, designs and colours, and it’s a tradition that is believed to have been monumental in the evolution of millinery as we know it today.