Christmas in France is a great time of family reunion where three things dominate: 1-decoration of the house, 2-presents, mainly for the children, and 3-… the meal!
For the Christmas meal, great care is taken with the decoration of the table. In Provence, it is traditional to cover it with 3 white tablecloths, in reference to the Trinity. Some even add 3 lit white candles in candlesticks and 3 saucers of wheat germ. Continue reading
There are the key traditions in Provence, as in nearly all countries in the World.
First there is Father Christmas, with his white beard and red cape, his sleigh and his reindeer. In his current form, he has taken over from Saint Nicolas, still celebrated today in several European countries as well as in the north and east.
There is also the Christmas Tree, decorated and illuminated, Midnight Mass for practising Catholics, the nativity scene and the renowned family meal.
However, in Provence Christmas would not be complete without santons, small figurines of all the characters in a traditional village … carpenter, baker, shepherd, etc.
To all of this is added a wide variety of culinary traditions, as well as stories and entertainments.
For ages, Father Christmas received letters, letters and more letters. They came to him from all over the planet. However, he had never taken a letter to other people.
That spring, Father Christmas was bored. Therefore he decided to change to change jobs to become … a postman! He got himself hired at the Celestial Post Office and became the postman from the clouds. For months he had a good time carrying packets and envelopes to the four corners of Heaven and Earth. He was very happy. One day however, as Christmas approached, a small child turned up begging him to turn back into … Continue reading
It originates from Roman times, before being Christianised. As such, it was celebrated for the first time in Rome in the year 336. In the Middle Ages, it became one of the most important Christian festivals. It then spread to the rest of the world in the course of colonization and contemporary westernization. In several decades it has changed significantly. Not celebrated as much as a religious festival anymore, it has kept all its magic nonetheless. Above all a children’s festival for children, for adults too, it is the festival of dreams and hopes, of love and peace for everyone.
« Vendanges »
This refers to the harvesting of grapes intended for wine production. The word is Latin in origin and made up of the words vinum (« vin ») and demere (« retirer »). The same Latin origin gave the name « vendémiaire » to the first month of the Republican calendar (1792 – 1806). It corresponded to the period 22nd September to 21st October. Another peculiarity of this word is that it is generally expressed in the plural. Continue reading
A poem for the 14th July (from French original)How sweet it seems, my beautiful Republic
Where many winds died down a long time ago,
When from our harsh suns to a hundred northern plains
Robespierre and Danton once enemies became friends.
How beautiful it seems, my France of folk tunes,
Which can dance to a thousand accordions,
While from our villages to the borders of Paris
A single people celebrates in good heart and with a single soul.
The 14th July is very often associated with the storming of the Bastille in 1789. It was indeed in the morning of that day that an angry crowd seized this prison-fortress and brought its destruction. However, it was a year later on 14th July 1790 that another event took place, the Festival of Federation. Besides being the first anniversary of the fall of the royal prerogative, this marked the national merging of the regional units of national guards, formed in each of the French provinces.
The 21st June, day of the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), is the day of the festival of music. The festival exists all over the world but did you know that its origin is French?! … And a bit American! In 1976, the American musician Joel Cohen, who was working at Radio France, put forward a special programme of music for the 21st June and the 21st December (for the two solstices). In 1981, Jack Lang, the Minister for Culture, made it an official holiday in France. Continue reading
From 20th to 28th May, Aix-en-Provence continues an ancestral tradition with the Festival of the tabor, a musical instrument which is emblematic of Provence. From throughout Provence, and also from the Drôme, Gard and Hérault departments, some 200 tabor players gather on Cours Mirabeau simply for the pleasure of playing together, virtuoso players and beginners alike.