Nol Provenal by ProQuest


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									                                 The last Word

                                 Noël Provençal
                                 Alice Alech

                                             hristmas in Provence is a spec-
                                             tacular affair. Lights and deco-
                                             rations go up as early as the end
                                             of November for the saision des
                                 fêtes. In December, vendors at the outdoor
                                 markets bring out their Christmas specials,
                                 while musicians and artists start practicing
                                 for the Midnight Mass theater.
                                     the real festivities get started on December 4, St. Barbe’s Day,     the dishes commonly served is l’aigo boulido (provençal for “boiled
                                 when grains of wheat and lentils are carefully placed in a saucer        water”), a simple garlic and herb soup. the other dishes will usually
                                 near the fireplace, to be watered and tended every day until             include cod, lots of vegetables, cheese, and bread.
                                 Christmas eve. everyone wants the seedlings to thrive, since the             at around eleven o’clock, the feast stops temporarily so that
                                 sprouts will tell what the next harvest will be like: if they’re tall,   families can attend midnight Mass. Many village churches still
                                 green, and straight by Christmas eve, the coming harvest will be         observe Pastoral, a performance of musical theater in the provençal
                                 a good one.                                                              language; villagers dressed in provençal costumes sing and act
                                     It’s impossible to imagine Christmas in provence without the         out their own version of the Nativity story. In Pastrage, another
                                 crèches that are displayed in homes, churches, and town halls.           provençal custom, shepherds follow musicians up to the altar and
                                 the santons that populate the crèches faithfully represent village       offer a live lamb to the priest (the lamb is not harmed).
                                 life. Santons—a provençal word that means “little saints”—are                at the end of midnight Mass everyone wishes each other Joyeux
                                 handmade figurines used in crèches and nativity plays. they are          Noël and returns home for the Les Treize desserts. Why thirteen?
                                 made of clay, wood, or pastry and are carefully dressed or painted.      the number is said to represent Jesus and the twelve apostles at
                                 at first, the only figures were the infant Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the      the Last Supper. the desserts come from the different regions of
                                 Magi, and the shepherds. today there are santons of bakers,              provence and include fruits and nuts, white and bla
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