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How to celebrate Christmas in Provence ?

Chrismas in Provence
All regions and countries have their own traditions for celebrating Christmas and Provence is no exception. The festivities take place from December 4th to Candlemas. During this period, there is a lot of activity: Christmas markets, santon fairs, cribs….. Step by step discover the stages of a magical Christmas in Provence.


In Provence, the tradition is that on the 4th of December, grains of wheat are planted in 3 bowls. These three bowls represent the Holy Trinity. It is always amusing to note that every self-respecting Provencal, when entering a house at Christmas time, always looks at the growth of the Saint Barbara. Indeed, this one is beautiful, it announces a beautiful harvest for the following year. It is therefore a sign of prosperity.


The santon fairs are very popular in Provence. It is a family outing where one chooses the santons that will populate the cot. Every year from mid-November, santon markets appear everywhere. Santons are clay figurines and you have a whole world to discover. The most famous santons are the Fouque santons in Aix en Provence. You can also visit the workshop of Denis Voeux in Vaison-la-Romaine, a passionate person who has lived in the wonderful world of santons since his childhood. A real santon maker!


It is traditionally the cot of the grandfathers that is passed on from generation to generation, to which one santon or accessory is added each year.


To feel Christmas, and have a real Christmas feeling, you have to go to a Christmas market. Drink hot chocolate, eat chestnuts, stroll through the decorated and illuminated alleys…..You can choose craft Christmas markets or gourmet Christmas markets like the Truffle market in Rognes.


December 24th is Christmas Eve. On that evening, people go to mass. In some villages, a living nativity scene is organised, where several inhabitants play one of the protagonists of the Nativity scene.
On Christmas Eve, the Big Supper is eaten, a lean, meatless meal that ends with the 13 desserts. The table must be set with three white tablecloths, in reference to the Holy Trinity, and always an extra place setting for the poor or the vagrant passing by.

Did you know that?

The remains of this meal, including the crumbs, must remain on the table for three days, with the corners of the tablecloth raised (to prevent evil spirits from invading). The leftovers are given to the traveller or needy person passing through, as well as to the deceased members of the family and the angels!


The least known tradition
The oldest and youngest members of the family choose the largest and most beautiful log from a fruit tree. The oldest person blesses it with cooked wine and recites:
“God grant us the grace to see next year and if we are not one more than we are one less.
Now that you know everything, come and spend Christmas in Provence.