The Translation of Saint Catherine’s Day

By / 25 November 2015 / Professional translation

People celebrating Saint Catherine’s Day: a Spanish translation

A reminder of Saint Catherine’s execution for refusing to marry the Roman emperor Maxentius, the 25th November is also the day single woman over the age of 25 wear a yellow and green headdress to recall the martyr’s wisdom and their unwavering hope for the future.

The Translation of Saint Catherine's Day - Caravaggio - Sainte Catherine

The Translation of Saint Catherine’s Day – Caravaggio – Sainte Catherine

In France, these young women are then called “catherinettes”. Although the tradition of honoring Saint Catherine spread like wildfire throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, nowadays, it isn’t celebrated everywhere. Nevertheless, there is a Spanish translation of for people taking part in Saint Catherine’s Day. The French term for “catherinettes” is hence translated as “catalineras” [1] and the event is actually celebrated in several Spanish regions.

The ever more palatable translation of bachelorhood

Quaint traditions and translations

Nowadays, bachelors, as Jean Claude Bologne already asserted it in his 1970 History of Bachelors, are less and less worried about their status and sometimes even take pride in it. The fact people have been getting less and less frightened over the past decades at the prospect of being single despite the unspoken frustration it tends to cause is above all indicative of the loss of social worth the institution of marriage has incurred.

Hence, Saint Catherine’s Day is nowadays closer to being a part of a region’s heritage. In Turin for example, tradition has it that budding seamstresses were called “caterinetta” and that the town’s young men often fell in love with them [3]. Here is an example of a translation of Saint Catherine’s Day which is completely rooted in a specific area, a translation of Saint Catherine’s Day prescribed by a town’s particular industry.

The Translation of Saint Catherine's Day - Gimli_36, PK5D5663 (Flickr)

The Translation of Saint Catherine’s Day – Gimli_36, PK5D5663 (Flickr)

In a secular society progressively more open to feminist claims, bachelorhood isn’t perceived as ill fate anymore. On the contrary, today’s younger generations are increasingly likening the institution of marriage to a straightjacket or at least to some superfluous rite. It’s therefore no wonder if Saint Catherine’s Day is less and less well known, especially as the average age at which women are marrying has been rising over the past decades and is currently standing at around thirty.

The translation of Saint Catherine’s Day: a matter of denomination

Lastly, the translation of Saint Catherine’s Day is problematic in countries which aren’t as vibrantly catholic. In Germany and the UK, there’s no tradition comparable to the one in France, whereas in Portugal for example, Saint Catherine is the patron saint of students, teachers and philosophers [4]. All in all, the translation of Saint Catherine’s Day is rather difficult as unlike Mother’s Day for example (here’s the link back to our article on the translation of Mother’s Day), it hasn’t attracted any great commercial enthusiasm. Fortunately, Mytranslation’s here to delve into such subjects and tell you what’s what!

Sources and photo credits

[1] – Catalina de Alejandría: Spanish version of Wikipedia (a Mytranslation language)
[2] – Caravaggio, Sainte Catherine, Oil on canvas, 1595-1596
[3] – Caterina d’Alessandria: Wikipedia in Italian
[4] – Catarina de Alexandria: Wikipedia in Portuguese (a Mytranslation language)

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