While working today, I checked my dear old Mawrdoush for an ambiguous word (well, when you're a translator, you tend to get that intimate with your dictionaries, naming each one, and even having a favorite and a least favorite). Anyway, while skimming through the pages, a specific word caught my attention (now I'm programmed to notice it wherever I go, and no matter what context it figures in) . I'm talking about "Eve" by the way, but the term that made me stop for a while is "Saint Agnes's Eve". Apparently it's the night of January 20th, when girls are supposed to see their future husbands in their dreams. Hmm, never heard of that before. Curious enough, I ran some researches, which revealed to me that Saint Agnes is actually a virgin martyr of the Roman Catholic Church. The legend of Saint Agnes is that she was a member of the Roman nobility, raised in a Christian family, who suffered martyrdom at age thirteen during the reign of the emperor Diocletian, on January 21, 304. The prefect Sempronius wished her to marry his son, and on her refusal condemned her to death. Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, so he ordered her to be raped beforehand, but her honour was miraculously preserved. When led out to die she was tied to a stake, but the faggots would not burn, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and struck off her head. Thus, Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls; folk custom called for them to practice rituals on Saint Agnes' Eve (20th-21st January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. It is also worth mentioning that this superstition has been immortalised in Keats's poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes", for whoever wants to check it out.
Away from all these explanations, do you wish to hear my colleagues' reaction? "Hmm", they said, "and it is now that you remember to tell us?" Okay, okay, I'll try to mention it earlier next year! By the way, does anyone remember whom has she dreamt about on the night of January 20th? Next time, just make sure to rent a Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt movie before going to bed!
Since we're talking about saints, find out who is the patron saint of your profession. Mine is Saint-Jerome, and we celebrate translators' day on September 30th.