Avent -21 : Celebrate Christmas just as in Provence

Non loin du quai, à trois pas du Consulat d’Iran, il y avait un snack-bar qu’Ottaviani connaissait pour s’y offrir parfois un sandwich au jambon ou au saucisson à l’ail. Il s’y introduisit, poussif, fourbu. Il y avait tout un tas d’individus au bar. “Salut, dit-il.” – “Bonjour, fit Romuald, un barman actif mais toujours souriant, un froid glacial, pas vrai ?” (La disparition, Georges Perec, 1969, p.34)

This post was published for the first time on the Europeana Sounds Blog the 3rd of December 2014, at this URL : Unfortunately, all the posts of this blog were dissolved in the web when the project finished. We are taking advantage of this advent calendar to publish therein of these forgotten posts…


Christmas in Provence begins on the 4th December, with Saint Barbara (Sainte Barbe): tomorrow, plant in a wheat cotton-covered ceramic saucer grains of seeds, lentils or chickpeas. They will grow throughout the month and flowering will bring you joy and prosperity.

Then you have to build the « crèche » (nativity scene). Each « santon » (Christmas crib figures) has its place and its story. Of course, everybody comes to watch at Mary, Jesus and later – on January 6th – the three Wises Men. But don’t forget Joseph a very popular saint in Provence  who often shares joyous adventures

We offer you to listen to a tale in Provencal language recorded on a wax cylinder in 1900 in Paris, during the « Exposition universelle »In this tale, Joseph appears with his usual image of handyman effective, simple and happy. He is presented as the man who has never kissed anyone in his life. Under the coat which he covers his family to warm them up, he makes its first « potons » (kisses in Provençal) to his wife and son.

Christmas is also the time of the « petit et grand souper » (small and big supper). In Mouriés, near Arles, Ernestine Gonfon tells us precisely how the « grande table » (large table) was laid in the early 20th century in Provence.

The evening started with the « repas maigre » (lean supper) consists solely of vegetables. No cod – as is often the case in Provence – but anchoïade (anchovy) with chard and celery, followed fricots (oven dish) spinach and snails, thistle roots dug blanched and fries and finally, as expected, « les 13 desserts » (the thirteen desserts).

Ernestine tells also how was the ceremony of « cachofio »: a beautiful and big fruit tree log was put in the fireplace. The youngest of the gathering had just blessed with wine by saying a little chorus

Like  them, the CREM and MMSH teams  send you these wishes:

[Joy, God save us joyful. May God make us the grace to see the year that is coming, and if we are not more, than we will not be less]

Crédits photographiques : crèche de Noël 2014, V. Ginouvès, CC-BY.

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Ceux qui passent à la phonothèque (2020, 4 décembre). Avent -21 : Celebrate Christmas just as in Provence. Archives de la recherche & Phonothèque. Consulté le 5 mars 2024, à l’adresse

  1. In December archived only 6 posts of this blog and not ours: []

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