mercredi 3 décembre 2008


After the previous post, and all its bling decorations, I propose you to come back to the essential meaning of Christmas.

Après le "post" précédent et toutes ses décorations scintillantes, je vous propose de se remettre sur le voie de la signification essentielle de Noël.

La Crèche. Nativity Scene.

Here, in France, when I was a liitle girl, we used to create it with Santons of Provence it comes from "Santoun" little saints in provençal

Quand j'étais une petite fille, noous avions l'habitude de préparer la crèche avec des santons de provence (le nom vient de "Santouns" en provençal qui signifie petits Saints).

The crèche is composed with original figurines of Nativity:

They are figurines made in clay, and hand-painted. None of them is similar to an other, they're all unique creation!

And also figurines of the day to day life in Provence at the 19 th Century. They were all "coming" to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Each of them represented a former trade.

Les vieux métiers du 19ème siècle :

Shepherds with the Priest (Curé) , Mistral, Grinder...

Berger avec le Curé, le Mistral, le Rémouleur.

Some of them are famous and particular to Provence :

Le Ravi :

with his arms up above his head He is the simple minded of the village. He puts up his arms, by surprise, learning Jesus's birth.

le simple d'esprit, qui élève les bras au ciel à l'annonce de la naissance du Christ.

Mistral :

a figurine of a shepherd with wind in its cloak. The wind of South of France is called "le Mistral"

le berger au vent dans la cape.

The shepherd : generally carrying a lamb
The old man and woman (le Vieux et la Vieille) :
They're generally represented arm in arm.
Généralement, présentés bras dessus bras dessous.

Water Carrier ( Le Porteur d'eau) : to remind the importance of water in the region of Provence.

I have taken all these pictures at one of the Paris Christmas Market , near Concorde.

During my youth, they were sold in almost every stores at the same place you bought Christmas tree decorations. Nowadays, trend is reversed, while we find decorations everywhere, Nativity scene figurines are found only at specialised stores.

Pendant mon enfance, les personnages étaient vendus presque partout avec les décorations de Noël. De nos jours, la tendance s'est inversée, alors que l'on trouve partout les décorations de Noël, les figurines de la crèche sont vendues dans les magasins spécialisés.

20 commentaires:

  1. So interesting! I love nativities and have several of them displayed in my home. I have never seen the figurines sold separate in that manner. They are always sold in sets. And to have figures from everyday life going to visit the baby Jesus is unique too. I love the idea! Thanks for teaching us.

  2. This has to be my favorite post of all time! So many "little saints" each with his story!
    The Wiki stub is an eye-opener too.

    Can I order just one donkey...? :)

  3. oh sympa ta boutique, justement je cherche une jolie crèche; elle se trouve ou exactement ?

  4. oh. this touches my heart. I collect nativities (i have many from the US but also Mexico,Peru, Poland, Taiwan, Israel,Indonesia, Indian,Ireland and Italy)and featured them all last year in my December Thursday thirteens. I love them, this post and the true meaning of Christmas.

  5. In Italy they didn't have Christmas trees when Mr. Gattino was a child, but everybody had a big creche ! There are still competitions who has the most beautiful crèche. In Germany of course I only had a tree, but when we married we did both, only I had to reduce his crèche because if you put it up properly it takes half of a normal room !
    My friend (she is french from Normandy but lives in Belgium too) and I are back from Egypt since sunday and it's quite hard to get used to this cold weather !

  6. They are perfect. I wish we had these here, too. You must have so many memories from childhood!

  7. So beautiful, your native Christmas figurines!
    We have no snow in Vienna, only in the South and West of the country. Herrjy

  8. These are lovely. We have a nativity scene in our family and I always loved to set it up as a child.
    I like that yours has traditional citizens. We just usually have the Wisemen and a load of animals.

  9. Hi Catherine,
    Beautiful post for Christmas. With all those stories of each figurine. That store looks awesome. I could stay there all day just looking. Thanks for stopping by my place.


  10. These are all beautiful. We used to be able to find the nativity scenes everywhere too and now I realise they are very hard to find here as well.

  11. Bonjour Catherine! J'aime beaucoup ces creches! I enjoy learning how people in other countries celebrate Christmas.
    Mon amour va bien! :D

  12. I have 2 different sets of nativity figures but I want to start collecting the Santons. They can be really beautifully done and can be passed on..
    I love the photos especially the one of the old man and his cape..

  13. I love all your posts about provence! My mom's husband is french and his last name is Provence, so I love reading these's like Christmas around the world!

  14. c'est le temps des santons et des belles crèches. Dommage que dans la cathedrale d'evry, il ne fasse pas une crèche.

  15. Je fais ma creche tous les ans,avec de vieux santons venant de la creche de ma grand mere,et de nouveaux que j'achete un peu tous les ans...
    Je suis contente tu m'apprends les noms de certains dont le Mistral.Je ne savais pas qu'ils portaient des noms!!
    Et bien que la Bretagne ne soit pas tout pres de la Provence... j'ai de nouveaux santons avec des costumes Bretons!!!
    Tes posts de Noel me mettent dans le Spirit!! Super!

  16. Figurines as unique creations are rarities nowadays when everything is mass-produced.
    I enjoyed a lot this post, Catherine: it's very interesting for the fine pictures and the explanation.

  17. My brother visited Paris last week and I wish I had been with him. Maybe soon! I love looking at Nativity scenes from around the world and would collect them if I had room to display them. Thanks for sharing the story behind your figurines.

  18. How interesting. Thank you for sharing. I guess the fact that these wonderful figures are only sold at specialty shops is yet another symptom of the removal of Christ from the Christmas celebration. It really makes me very sad.

  19. These figurines look very lively and attractive!

  20. Hi Catherine, I have gotten behind in my blog reading. I'm glad I made it here to your wonderful post about nativities. Thanks for the lovely photos and history, too.