People across the Levantine Middle East eat a heavily-scented porridge called Burbura on 4th December, to celebrate the feast of St Barbara. The Eid al-Burbura is celebrated in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, as well as parts of Russia and Turkey.

The traditional food for Saint Barbara’s Day is a porridge made of boiled rice grains, pomegranate seeds, raisins, anise, sugar and in some recipes with cinnamon and fennel.

St Barbara was a Christian martyr. Some of the traditions of St Barbara’s Day ressemble those of Halloween, although the feast days are not related. Adults and children dress up and go from house to house “trick or treating” which apparently reflects the many disguises worn by Saint Barbara while she tried to escape from the Romans.

I woke up at 5 am this morning and Eid al-Burbura was the first thing I read about on Wikipedia. To celebrate, I made myself a bowl of porridge with grain and dried fruit, and then ate that accompanied by a cup of cold kefir (pictured).

Not quite how you’d celebrate in the Middle East but close enough to feel part of the Eid.