Holidays in Nice to discover the traditions of Christmas in Provence
If there is a region where Christmas is anchored in the heart of its inhabitants, it is undoubtedly Provence.
Filled with symbols, beliefs and traditions, the end-of-year celebrations are synonymous with convivial moments that are rich in exchange. Enjoy your stay in our hotel in Nice to discover the rites and traditions that punctuate the end of the year.
Holidays in Nice to plant the wheat of Sainte Barbe
If you are visiting Nice around December 4th, don’t be surprised to see a lot of wheat seed stands blooming everywhere in Provence.
Indeed, the traditional wheat of Saint-Barbe launches the official countdown of the festivities of the advent. Small packages are often sold for charities.
The seeds should be planted in 3 saucers on damp cotton. If the stems grow upright and green, the year will be prosperous.
The resulting wheat germs are then used as decorations for Provencal nativity scenes.
Nativity scenes, santons and Christmas markets in Provence
In Provence at Christmas, no nativity scenes without santons and no santons without Christmas markets. From mid-November, each village organizes its fair of small characters in clay.
If for most people the nativity scene is often summed up with the Holy family and the animals of the barn, the Provencal people have made it a real institution. From the fishmonger to the petanque player to the shepherd or washerwoman, the whole life of the village is represented. Coming from local crafts, there are more than a hundred workshops of creation of santons distributed throughout the region.
From your hotel in Nice, don’t miss the village of Lucéram in the Alpes-Maritimes where more than 450 nativity sets are exposed.
Big dinner and 13 desserts
Of course, we can’t talk about Christmas in Provence without mentioning the big dinner and the 13 desserts. On the evening of December 24th, while waiting for Mass time, we have the big supper. This is a real staging where white tablecloths, candles and decorations made from holly take place.
As its name does not indicate, it is actually a lean meal where serving meat is excluded. We enjoy seasonal vegetables, cod or celery with pepper. At the return of the midnight mass, believers can finally savor the 13 desserts that will adorn the table for 3 days.
Although it may vary depending on the city, traditionally we find 4 beggars (figs, almonds, raisins and nuts) as well as dates, 2 nougats, pompe à l’huile, Quince cheese, beignet and fresh fruit.