3rd of December is a special day back in Syria and for me it’s extra special as it’s my birthday!
I was born on Saint Barbara’s day. My doctor was out partying before he delivered me, and suggested my name to be Barbara, but it ended up Angelique; taking after my grandmother’s name and i love it. Since then every year it’s our family tradition to have the Christmas tree up on that day and the house is covered with xmas decoration all over. I don’t recall any year that passed without the smell of my mom’s tasty ( Slika – in Arabic is سليقة and in Armenian ( hadig – հատիկ )
the pure translation to English based on recipes online is Burbara -Middle Eastern Wheat Berry Porridge, all over the house.
Tradition / history
Many Syrian children look forward to Eid al-Barbara (Saint Barbara’s Day), celebrated in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey) by wearing costumes and eating traditional food on that evening .
On Saint Barbara’s Day, children in several Syrian towns go out in costumes and disguises and knock on their relatives and neighbors’ doors to wish them well and – more importantly – collect sweets.
Syrian hotels and restaurants also put on special fancy dress parties for the occasion.
Historically story tellers shared different version of St Barbara’s story but the most common one is the following:
Saint Barbara was persecuted in the 3rd century because she believed in Jesus. The general belief among Middle Eastern Christians is that Saint Barbara disguised herself in many different characters to escape the Romans who were persecuting her. While fleeing from the Romans, Barbara supposedly also ran through a freshly planted wheat field, which grew instantly behind her to magically cover her path. This miracle is recreated symbolically today by planting wheat seeds (or chick peas, barley grains, beans, lentils) in little pots. The seeds germinate and grow quickly to around 6 inches in time for Christmas. Then the shoots are used to decorate the nativity scene usually placed below the Christmas tree.
Some correct the story, that she was running away from her father and beside the miracle of the wheat fields , you may find many Religious icons that had been drawn of her holding Wheat spike. Therefore we eat wheat on that day.
On the other hand, Planting seeds on that day by the kids is a Lebanese custom, which we never had in Syria.
I would like to quote a friend of mine , سليقة – slika is a very easy desert to make but it takes time , you need to boil the wheat for many long hours therefore it’s called slika …
Please note . the verb out of the word Slika means boiling in Arabic .
You can find some family pictures of a Dear friend of mine from this year 2017 , she moved to Qatar but kept the tradition within the school and home with her kids .
And throw back to my old pictures below you can find me partying in the old days of Aleppo i.e. 2009. One of the best parties that annually used to be organized on Barbara Night By the entrepreneur Magdy Sh.
How to make Barbara – slika سليقة – Sniye- Hadig հատիկ
You may find the two different recpies by clicking below.
My mom’s Way ☺ .
- the night before you place wheat with water and keep them overnight In the water .
- next morning Change the water , and start heating/and the coking process begin .
- When it starts boiling you get some white crème on the top . you take them out with a spoon while its boiling .
you leave the pot a little open . and on very law heat . you should make sure you cooked it well ( you can add hot water each time you feel it’s getting less . …..until the wheat is well cooked . be patient this is a long process .
- As it’s a dish that can stay for a week in the fridge . my mom’s secret is the following
- Take portions that you need to serve and mix it with sugar , cinnamon , grounded anise seeds and fennel grounded . ( she doesn’t buy grounded anise and fennel ready from the market . she buys the seeds grill them a little in the pan ….. then ground them and use it as spice for the mixture )
- Placing it in bowls for serving warm . after flavoring ,decorate each serving with toppings . chopped Almonds, pistachio , nuts and golden raisin … based on your wish or the guests wish .
This Sweet porridge is not dedicated specially for this day only . the same porridge will be served when a new born baby gets his first teeth . the family will gather for an afternoon sweets and this porridge will be served and shared happily .