Monday, December 21, 2009
I have a friend back home in DC who really goes all out for Christmas, rearranging the furniture to make way for a huge tree and an impressive number of nutcrackers, smokers, and decorations of every kind imaginable, and for every room in the house too. It's an incredible amount of work but she and her family love Christmas so much, they wouldn't have it any other way.
And that's just who I was thinking of the other day when I went to Sceaux, just south of Paris, where a dozen or more vendors were selling santons, the terracotta figures native to Provence, that are special to the Christmas season. The essential santons are the actors in the nativity scene. But why stop with just Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a cow, a donkey, and the three kings? While you're at it, you can have all the barnyard animals and an entire Provençal village, right down to the priest (which is kind of bizarre and anachronistic, if you stop and think about it). One of my French teachers goes all out, taking over the entire dining room table for her Christmas display, relegating her husband to a bridge table for his meals during the holiday season.
The figures pictured here are the work of Arterra, specialists in santons out of Marseille. You can also buy them unpainted but I'm pretty sure they won't turn out as amazing as these. And to my dear friend in Falls Church, I couldn't decide what to get for you. You'll just have to come for a visit and choose for yourself.