Children get served taffy on this day.
It’s also considered a special day for single women. Taffy pulls were held in some places as an excuse for a party for single women (“Catherinettes” in French) to meet eligible bachelors, in time for a date at the Christmas parties that would soon be starting.In Ravenna, Italy, girls are given cookies in the shape of dolls. So that their brothers don’t go cookie-less, boys are given a cookie in the shape of a rooster.
Catherine lived in Alexandria, Egypt. She was broken on a wheel then beheaded for both refusing to marry the Roman Emperor Maxentius (c. 279 – October 312) who was visiting Alexandria around 307, and really annoying him as well by converting one of his other wives plus 200 of his personal guardsmen to Christianity.
The story is problematic, though, as Maxentius may never have travelled to Egypt at all. He was constantly busy in Italy trying to defend his claim to the throne, and he tolerated Christians, though he wasn’t one himself. One of his rivals was Constantine, the first Christian Emperor: many of the stories about how evil Maxentius was to Christians seems to have sprung up after Constantine deposed him and came to the throne.
She became the Patron Saint of unmarried women sometime in the 1100s.
The tradition of making special efforts to celebrate her day started in Québec with the nun, Marguerite Bourgeoys (born Champagne, France on 17 April 1620 — died at Montréal on 12 January 1700). The tradition of making taffy on this day also started with Marguerite Bourgeoys.
One of Montréal’s main streets is named after St Catherine.
Sadly, the Church now considers her story a legend, and her feast day was struck from the Church calendar in 1969. In 2002, though, it was restored, but as an optional day.
Also known as “taffy day” in Québec. In Québec, “Catherinette” used to be an expression for a single woman over 25.