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Christmas Traditions in Provence

The Holiday Season is a particularly festive period in Provence. Through centuries, many traditions have spread in the region for the enjoyment of young and old alike. Let’s discover them together!

Saint Barbara’s Wheat

With this tradition, begin the end-of-the-year merrymakings. Starting on December, 4th, many people buy a little bag of wheat seeds to be germinated in 3 different saucers, symbol of the Trinity, in the hope of a flourishing year to come.

tradition ble sainte barbe

Christmas Markets

We introduced Christmas Markets in Provence in our last article. Mulled wine, handcrafted souvenirs and Christmas decorations – you’ll find something for every taste!

marche noel

Christmas Santons and the Crèche

In Provence, the nativity scene is not only composed of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the animals, but also welcomes the whole village. Baker, ball player, shopkeeper… The Santons of Provence represent the typical Provencal village that surround the crèche.

creche noel provencale

The Big Supper and the 13 Desserts

Christmas eve dinner, called the Big Supper (le Gros Souper) follows a great number of rituals and symbols. Three white tablecloths and candles, 3 saucers of germinated wheat, 7 light dishes, 13 bread rolls and 13 desserts.

The Big Supper is generally composed of vegetables, fish or soup. Once the dinner is over, the guests head over the church in order to assist the Midnight Mass, then go back to their dining room to eat the 13 desserts: date, fougasse (special olive oil-based bread), mendiant (chocolate disc with fruits and nuts), fresh fruits, fruit spreads, nougat…

gros souper calendal noel provence

Midnight Mass

You may already know what the Midnight Mass is, but have you ever heard of the Provencal Midnight Mass?

It can sometimes be read in the regional language, the Provencal, and locals usually set a crèche wearing traditional costumes. Some provencal singings, called the Pastorale, can also be heard. There are more than 250 versions of those in the whole region.

The Christmas traditions of Provence officially end on February, 2nd, on Candlemas day.

Come and ask us at La Claudy, if you don’t know where to go on December, 24th!

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