As we celebrate the holidays, Mr. TWS and I send our Christmas greetings and thanks for following us on our travels in 2014. This year, we spent time in France for a great start to the Christmas season.
We began in Paris…
We began with a few days in Paris and then took the high-speed TGV train south to Provence (just over three hours from Paris to Marseille) where we discovered the region’s Christmas traditions, culture and history, as well as its warm and welcoming people. There will be much more to come about this trip on TWS and other websites, but here’s a glimpse of the sights, lights, and traditions of the season that we enjoyed in Provence.
Christmas traditions in Provence
In each city and village we visited, we were delighted by the religious, cultural, and creative displays and activities reflecting some of the key Provençal Christmas traditions that include:
- Santons, distinctive hand-crafted clay figurines originally created for crèche representations, but expanded to include figures that illustrate local life in Provence.
- Nativity scenes, displayed in churches and other locations in the the communities featuring the Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and other biblical and secular santons. (The end of Christmas festivities is marked on February 2nd when the nativity scenes are taken down.)
- 13 Desserts, a selection of crystallized fruit and other special sweets served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
- Wheat, sprouted from seeds planted on the Feast of Saint Barbara (December 4th) to foretell prospects of prosperity for the coming year.
- Christmas markets, a relatively recent tradition in many towns of Provence, showcase vendors selling local products, wares, food and wine.
You’ll see these and other sights that captured our attention in the photos below.
Our Christmas cards to you from …