Monday, December 23, 2013

Provence Calendale Traditions-

Provence, month-long festival of Christmas is called in Provencal "Li Calendo".  It starts on the Feast of Santa Barbara, December 4 and lasts to Epiphany, January 6.  The ancient traditions and rituals include setting nativity scenes filled with the usual nativity characters but also with santons - exquisite hand-crafted little figurines representing characters of the local village life-- the shepherd, the baker, the peddler, the farmer, the postman, etc..  

Another Provencal Tradition is the Gros Souper and the 13 Deserts.  At the Big Supper before Christmas eve mass, the table is set with three tablecloths on which three candlesticks are placed along with three plates filled with wheats. This is to represent the Trinity. A buffet of seven
different dishes is laid out along with 13 deserts (the number representing Jesus and the apostles) and include precisely:

4 mendiants, each symbolize a religious order: 
  • Dried figs (Franciscans)
  • Almonds (Carmelites)
  • Raisins (Dominicans)
  • Walnuts (Augustinians)

Fougasse or pompe a huile (a flat bread flavored with olive oil and herbs); 
and an assortments of fresh fruits, candied fruits, nougats and cakes.  They will remain on the table for three days and each guest must taste each one of them.

Bon NouvéJoyeux Noël!

tags: Provence, christmas traditions in Provence

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