Varvara: Non secular and Culinary Customs of Thrace

Written by Marina Siskos

Persons are continually in contact with the previous, and preserving historic customs and traditions implies that a necessity, coming from the previous, stays related within the current.

As for materials and culinary customs, plainly they’ve grow to be an integral a part of the lives of societies, and have grow to be a pure a part of every day life.

Varvara is an Orthodox customized honoring Saint Barbara, celebrated on December 4 and related to the Thrace area.

Beneath is a quick abstract of the lifetime of Saint Arabara and the that means of this tradition to at the present time.

The courageous saint who saved the lives of Christians:

Saint Barbara is the patroness of the Hellenic artillery of the armed forces and youngsters. On at the present time, individuals ready honey pies and Varvara sweets, as they’re referred to as and cooked in Thrace, in her honor.

This tradition dates again to historic instances, and the seeds, its most important ingredient, point out fertility.

Honoring Varvara in Thessaloniki, December 2022. Picture by Marina Siskos.

On 3Analysis and improvement Within the twentieth century, Dioscorus, Saint Barbara’s father and a merciless idolater, was plotting towards Christians. He ordered every baker to poison the meals the Christians had been about to purchase. Saint Barbara realized about this and advised her father about his plan in order that nobody would purchase something edible within the following days. Due to this fact, individuals needed to eat from items saved at residence, and wheat was one of many staples normally saved presently of 12 months. Nevertheless, wheat alone is not going to be sufficient to fulfill individuals’s starvation. Christians blended it with varied different components, akin to dry nuts, beans, and raisins, to complement the dish.

Folks had been saved because of Saint Barbara’s brave intervention, however she was doomed to her father’s wrath and punishment. She was beheaded by Dioscorus himself and changed into a martyr.

Defending the earth and its merchandise:

Varvara, a culinary customized, is related to the land and its merchandise. It heralds the start of a protracted and tough winter within the countryside, and with its seeds and nuts it’s a want for fertility, well being and abundance.

Simply as diet promotes good well being and protects towards sickness and weak spot, Saint Barbara can also be the patron saint of youngsters’s well being.

barbaric It’s a main celebration in Thrace, the place each household respectfully prepares sweets and shares them with the group, wishing a wholesome and affluent winter. It’s an historic customized, the variations of which will be traced to the use and consumption of the merchandise of the land, even earlier than its affiliation with Christianity. The Varvara is well known communally, thus affirming the solidarity of the group, and making a silent promise of assist and providing, which is so very important to the upkeep and prosperity of the group.

Beneath is the recipe taken from the e-book by distinguished meals journalist Eleni Ciccoli. Eleni suggests consuming this dietary dessert for breakfast:

Honoring Varvara, on the Thracian Cultural Society of Thessaloniki (ΘΕΘ), December 2022. Picture by Marina Siskos.


  • 1 and a half kilo of wheat
  • a pinch of salt
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (substitute: mint)
  • 1 tablespoon floor cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of floor cloves
  • 1 tablespoon floor cumin
  • 1 cup of peeled almonds
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • ½ cup sesame
  • 1 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • Half a cup of black raisins
  • Half a cup of blonde raisins
  • 1 ½ roasted and grated chickpeas


  1. The night time earlier than, dip the wheat in a bowl of water and depart it to soak.
  2. The subsequent morning, boil the wheat in a pan stuffed with water with a bay leaf and a pinch of salt – simply on the tip of a spoon. The aim is to melt the wheat whereas being cautious to not break the seeds.
  3. Drain the wheat utterly. It can save you the filtered water to make definitely.
  4. Place a non-stick frying pan on medium warmth, then toast the nuts. You’ll be able to toast every serving of nuts individually, however they’re scrumptious when toasted collectively, aside from sesame. Sesame may be very delicate, so you’ll want to toast it individually, both originally or on the finish. Whereas the nuts are roasting, combine them till they flip purple and start to launch the distinctive, nice aroma of heat nuts.
  5. Pour the wheat right into a bowl and blend it with sugar, raisins, chickpeas and spices.
  6. Grinding nuts. Press the blender button a couple of times, since you do not need to grind the nuts, simply grind them.
  7. Pour the spice combination over the wheat, add the pomegranate and parsley, till the components are mixed. Then cowl the bowl with plastic wrap and funky it within the fridge.


  • Varvara combination is tastier the subsequent day.
  • Historically, housewives dry the wheat with tablecloths for hours, however that is pointless, as a result of the little water remaining helps the sugar dissolve and the spices mix.
  • You’ll be able to omit the pomegranate if you do not have one.
  • You’ll be able to substitute parsley with recent mint.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply