Just read Frédéric Mistral in his “Mémoires et Récits” or Marie Mauron, to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a Provencal Christmas that begins with the period of Advent ie four Sundays before Christmas.
At the dawn of the 21st century nothing has changed in the Provençal families:
Everything begins on December 4, the day of the Holy Beard, where wheat or lentils are sprouted in three small cups covered with a thin layer of cotton, which is carefully soaked with water, Water every day until the Supper of December 24, when the saucers filled with their germinated seeds, tied with a red ribbon, will adorn the table.
If wheat or lentils are very thick, the year will be prosperous!
Then it is time to go back to the highest shelf of the house, the box of cardboard where the little terracotta santons have slept since last year; Carefully, small and large unfold the silk papers that protect the figurines and place them in lines on the large table in the dining room to find them, recognize them and name them one by one and thus teach the little ones all the names of Those who will be enthroned in the crib: and then under the eyes of the children, the knife-maker, the hunter, Margaride and her husband, the shepherd and his flock, the donkey, the ox, The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the gypsy, the Magi, lou boumian (the Bohemian), the bearer of wood and the little Jesus ….
Then all check that the long sleep in the box did not damage all these characters: otherwise glue and paint come into action to repair the damage!
Finally, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, the whole family leaves in the nearby hills and garrigues in search of moss, wild asparagus, branches of holly, pine and dead wood that will form the strong>.
Everyone busies and bickers when they come back to make the nursery that will remain in the house until the Epiphany: the brown spotted paper is placed then the various elements picked up, a piece of chocolate paper will do the trick to represent the River, remain the santons to place according to an ancestral rite to show the course of all, led by the Star, towards the stable of the Nativity; Only the child Jesus and the wise men remain on the buffet waiting for one on December 24 at midnight, others on January 6 to join the santons in the manger.
There is also a small plate in which are deposited by all the admirers some pieces as an offering to the child Jesus.
Then, according to traditions, the menu of festivities is prepared: grandmothers make atria, quince paste, watermelon jam and nougat (which will often dry on the marble of the night table) and hide them for To avoid the greedy ones eat them before Christmas, we do business to do the shopping and plan the wonderful supper of the vigil of December 24 ….