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Christmas in Provence December 05 2016, 0 Comments

We could resume the Christmas traditions in Provence like this : Rich symbols with strongs emotions.

If you spent your childhood in Provence, you remember all the traditions such as sowing the wheat or building and mounting the Nativity at home during the cold and windy afternoons of December.

Everything starts on December 4th , day of the Sainte Barbe (Saint Barbara). This day rings the beginning of “Calendale” period that will end at the Chandeleur (Candlemas) on February 2nd. During these two months you can enjoy a succession of traditions and celebration throughout the villages of Provence.

The wheat of Sainte Barbe:

On December 4th , you have to sow seeds of wheat and lentil on three saucers covered by humid cotton. The small packets of seeds are sold in almost every bakeries and profits are distributed to charitable organization. If the stalks are growing straight and are green, that means the coming year will be prosper. These little fields will be placed afterwards within the Nativity Scene “la Crèche”.

 The Crèche and Santons

To prepare the Crèche, many “santon’ fairs” are organized throughout Provence starting mid November. The real santon, the Provençal "Santoun" (small saint) is made of clay. It is created artisanally by hand and with love. There are hundreds of workshops between Marseille, Aubagne, Aix en Provence and Arles.

The figurines must take on human figure, a look, character and even a social rank. They represent the villagers going to the Crèche: petanque players, fish dealers, doctors, bakers, shepherds and many more ... The authentic Crèche is in fact an ideal representation of a Provençal village

 Christmas Markets

In December, Christmas markets take place in every town, and allow you to prepare Christmas pleasantly. Gastronomy, crafts, decoration and gift ideas spread out in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The open-air markets often offer hot cinnamon wine to warm you up. You will find everything you need to prepare the traditional Christmas meals , Provençale or not: turkeys and foie gras side the dishes of the big Provencal dinner and the 13 desserts.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve: the Supper

The supper is served on Christmas Eve before going to Midnight Mass. Nothing is left randomly, there is a symbolic behind each dish and everything is important.

The table is covered with 3 white tablecloths - with 3 lighted white candlesticks and 3 saucers of germinated wheat from the Sainte Barbe - the Trinity - Especially no mistletoe reputed to be bad luck!

The Large Supper “Gros Souper” is paradoxically composed of 7 charity plates in memory of the 7 pains of Mary. It is served with 13 little breads followed by 13 desserts representing the Last Supper with the twelve apostles and Jesus.

The charity plates differs from one corner of Provence to another. We often find celery, cauliflower, spinach, cod, omelet, snails, garlic soup, but no meat; only fish or shellfish.

The Midnight Mass

Everywhere you will hear Provençal Christmas songs, to celebrate this sacred moment. In some villages, the Mass may be in Provencal. The mass can include a living Crèche where the figures are represented by the villagers themselves in traditional costumes: the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, Joseph), the Biblical Magi and the shepherds.

A pastoral can also take place: it is a representation of the Nativity, sung and spoken in Provencal by characters dressed in Provençal costumes. The most famous Pastoral representation is the Maurel Pastoral in Aix en Provence. There are 250 different versions that tell stories of villages and Christmas traditions.

Christmas Eve: the Supper: the 13 desserts

The 13 desserts are the only abundance. The thirteen desserts are enjoyed at the return of the mass, they will remain on the table during the following 3 days, until December 27.

The 4 beggars, in memory of the various religious orders having made vows of poverty:

  • dry figs (Franciscans)
  • almonds (Carmelite)
  • dry grapes (Dominicans)
  • walnuts (Augustins)

The dates: the symbol of Jesus Christ coming from the East

The nougats : white nougats in memory of white penitents and black nougats in memory of black ones

The olive oil’s fougasse (the pump): round slab flattened with olive oil

Candied fruit from the region of Apt and Carpentras

“Les oreillettes”: small and light waffles

Fresh fruits: Orange, pear, grapes, mandarine

For sure, you will see between all these desserts the Calisson as a candy and often associated with the nougats. Calisson by Gilles is deeply rooted with Provençal traditions and is a family favorite during this important moment of Christmas.

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


How to Decorate and Give Your Home a Festive Touch This Christmas December 03 2014, 0 Comments

If you love Christmas time and the winter season as much as most people, you probably also enjoy decorating the inside of your house and having many Christmas parties. If you are out of ideas or you just want a few new ones to decorate your house this Christmas, be sure to keep reading below for some of the best and most festive holiday decorations of the year.

Centerpieces
Centerpieces are known for being the focal point of the table. But, if you want to do something a little different this year and you are tired of the same old stuff, why not try a candy centerpiece? It’s not as gaudy as one would think and can actually be quite tasteful and classy. One idea is to take a clear, tall, wide glass and fill it with different layers of mints. One example would be white table mints, then a layer of red and white mints, then white, red and white and so on and so forth. You can also add sweets to white ceramic candy trays, green and red goblets and clear glasses. Some ideas are rock candy sticks, ribbon candy of all colors, colorful chocolate and mint dinner mints and of course, calissons

Above Table Chandelier
If you thought the only thing you would be decorating this year was your tree, think again. Chandeliers are a great option to decorate, because besides the centerpiece, they are an idea focal point for any table. Dumb down the colors and use light icy blues, silver and white ribbons alongside shimmery decorations like stars, snowflakes or homemade Christmas tree balls for an amazingly simple yet classy look that everyone will compliment. If you have a chandelier that is pretty high from the table you can even string a few ornaments and items down from the chandelier so they hang down.

Windowsills
A lot of people have beautiful windows in their homes but they always get frustrated over what to put on the windowsills. Sure, you can do the traditional candles in each window, but if you want to start new traditions or try something different than usual, why not use what you already have to decorate the windowsill? One idea is to use tall clear jars of different heights and fill them up with different left over Christmas tree balls. The different heights and colors makes for an interesting and high impact display. If you really want to make an impact, be sure to use different sized Christmas balls too - from regular sized to mini.

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


by Gilles
23416 Caminito Valle Laguna Hills Orange County, CA 92653 United States 800-334-2081 gilles@bygilles.com
by Gilles
23416 Caminito Valle Laguna Hills Orange County, CA 92653 United States
800-334-2081 gilles@bygilles.com