(Sweet butter-bur, Tussilago fragrans is today's plant, dedicated to this saint)
She was a virgin (nun) and martyr of noble birth in Alexandria who defended the Christian faith against ‘heathen’ philosophers (c. 310 CE) commanded by Emperor Maximinus.
When Maximinus began his persecutions, the 18-year-old and very beautiful Catherine went to the emperor and rebuked him for his tyranny as he stood in the middle of a pagan temple. Unable to answer her arguments, he called in fifty philosophers to confront her. After they admitted that they were convinced by her arguments, the furious emperor sentenced them to be burned ...
From the wheel on which she was tortured and killed comes the circular window design in stained glass in medieval ecclesiastical architecture, termed a Catherine-wheel window or wheel window, and also the firework, the Catherine wheel.
There is quite a lot of folklore associated with Catherine and this day, and some info on the Hindu goddess Kali, with whom she has been compared. Check out November 25 in the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days where there is plenty more, on John Lennon, Homeland Insecurity, Celtic Tree Calendar Months, crazy temperance lady Carry A Nation, Australian Aboriginal Legend of the Great Flood and much more.