Celebrating Saint Catherine's Day publié le 09/12/2022

An English girl discovering a French tradition. [By Dominique Larzul]

A Catherinette, at Jean Rostand vocational high school, in Angoulême.

From Kirstin Dilley, English language assistant with a Scottish origin.


“I had never heard of the Catherinettes tradition, and so I did not know that just by being 25, female, and unmarried, I fit the description of those who are traditionally celebrated on the 25 November. Besides, nowadays that is quite a normal situation to be in !
After reading all about it, I was very happy to get involved and be presented with an extravagant hat skillfully made by the students.


My job as a language assistant is to bring some British culture to the classroom.
That does not, however, mean I do not get the opportunity to immerse myself in French culture, and what better way of understanding a tradition than this !
What’s more, the hat will make an excellent souvenir of my time in Jean Rostand.”


Learning more about "the Catherinettes”  :

The term Midinette first appeared during the Belle Époque era, and it referred to the young women who worked in the luxury fashion houses in Paris.

The Midinettes were mostly from Montmartre and Belleville, the working-class areas of Paris.

The Midinettes took St. Catherine as their patron saint, and she is still celebrated in Haute Couture Maison’s and ateliers on November 25. Single women who are 25 years old are given a hat decorated with green and yellow by their colleagues and are sometimes gifts from their supervisors in the hopes of a prompt marriage.

20,000 Midinettes took to the streets of Paris, marching from the Champs-Élysées along the Grand Boulevard in 1917. Forced to work a half day on Saturdays, they were protesting for a 5-day week following the English model. It was promptly granted by the Sewing Trade Union, thus leading to our modern weekend.


Dominique Larzul