November 25th is St Catherines day. Who? I hear you ask. Thanks to the power of Wikipedia I can tell you that: According to the traditional story, Catherine was the daughter of Costus, a pagan governor of Alexandria, where she was born. She is said to have announced to her parents that she would only marry someone who surpassed her in beauty, intelligence, wealth, and social status. Though raised a pagan, she converted to Christianity in her late teens. It is said that she visited her contemporary, the Roman Emperor Maximinus Daia, and attempted to convince him of the moral error in persecuting Christians. Upon the failure of the Emperor to win Catherine over, he ordered her to be put in prison; and when the people who visited her converted, she was condemned to death on the breaking wheel, an instrument of torture. According to legend, the wheel itself broke when she touched it, so she was beheaded.
Since then, girls were under the protection of St Catherine (while Saint Nicolas cared for the boys). Girls participated in devotion groups to the saint, and were responsible for the confection of a beautiful headdress to "cap" her statue each year on November 25. The young women left the group when marrying, hence "capping Saint Catherine" became, for a female, synonymous to "being still single at/after 25". Following the changes of women's and marriage's status in society, this custom progressively died all over France, with the exception of the hatmaking and dressmaking trades, wherein unmarried women, after they turned twenty-five, would attend a ball on St Catherine's Day in a hat made specially for the occasion;
Here are the some of the Catherinettes from last year showing off their millinery creations.
This year the Lycee Octave Feuillet in Paris is holding a Catherinette hat contest. Hats of any type can be entered, as long as they incorporate the Catherinette colours - green and yellow. You can enter online until the beginning of November. As far as I can work out it is still ok to enter if you are over 25 and married. Good luck and I would love to see any hats you guys make.