A “Barbara Branch” 2014

On the 4th of December every year – St. Barbara’s Day – I cut the branch of a spring flowering shrub to bring indoors, and then wait for it to open by Christmas. In my case this is usually Forsythia or Hazel, but cherry blossom or apple blossom also works, as does plum and apparently elderflower (!), which I have never actually seen. Time then to try it out, but I can only imagine some leaves will unfurl.

Elder

BarbarazweigElder

(It was begging for some Christmas decorations and since I don’t have a Christmas tree this is a perfect substitute!)

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It is called a “Barbarazweig” in German, and it is supposedly good luck if it opens by Christmas Eve. The legend of Saint Barbara is that she caught her robe on a branch while being led into prison. She placed the broken branch in water and it flowered on the day she was sentenced to death for her faith.

Forsythia

BarbarazweigForsythia

(Can you see the yellow flowers already trying to open? They have been showing for several days outdoors, so the whole branch may open sooner than expected… is that lucky too?!)

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It is said the branch should have had a frost on it, but I’m not sure this is really necessary. Luke-warm water and a not-too-warm room are best for the first two weeks, then it can be moved to a warmer spot. I must remember to change the water every two or three days.

Hazel

BarbarazweigHazel

The only disadvantage of Hazel is the pollen when the catkins open, so one to avoid if you suffer from hayfever. 😉

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I will of course let you know if any of my branches flower before Christmas!

Do you ever cut a Barbarazweig?