We can't remember the last time that we were away from home on Christmas. This year we will miss our family, our friends, and many of our traditions. But we are making wonderful new friends and even continuing some of our traditions here "à la française". At home, we love to put up different nativity scenes we have made or collected over the years, many of which we have found while traveling. This year for our Christmas present to ourselves, we added a new one to our collection; a traditional "Chèche de Noël" from provence in the south of France.
The traditional French "santons" or "little saints" that make up a Crèche de Noël often have Mary and Joseph being visited not by the typical kings and shepherds but rather by the local villagers all bringing their gifts. We noticed that many of the crèches that are now apprearing in cathedrals, churches, and other places around Lyon have an empty manger. We asked someone why Jesus was not there. They told us that the baby Jesus isn't there before Christmas. He is only added on Christmas morning. So in our new Christmas gift to ourselves we had to have two versions of Mary, one waiting for her new baby boy and the other one that will be set out on Christmas morning when the baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
Our new crèche complete with a backdrop from a Cezanne painting of Mt. Sainte Victoire in Provence.
Waiting for baby Jesus
Villagers and a pig coming to see the baby.
Gifts of lavender, lambs, geese and a rabbit.
On a little less religious note, we also bought Père Noël who brings gifts to nice children and Père Fouettard who whips naughty ones. The looks on the children's faces say it all. We're just glad that Père Fouettard wasn't around when we were young! Of course, Sister Geddes wouldn't have had to worry anyway.