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8 décembre 2017 5 08 /12 /décembre /2017 08:47

Merry Christmas  and the Good Cap of the year

"Calèna" sends back to us to the Latin word " calendes * ", which constitent in the Roman calendar the first day of the month. The first day from December till December 25th, where from the naming.

* "calendes" :  plural feminine word in Latin

    " calèna ": is him also in language of Nice


Here are some rites and symbols which I was able to collect in works telling the Traditions of Christmas in the County of Nice.

In the evening of the Christmas Eve on December 24th, before sitting down to eat, a particular care is brought to the implementation of this one. " Li very touàia ''- three tablecloths of decreasing size, symbolizing " The Trinity ", are so arranged: one for the evening of 24, one for the meal of 25 and an other one for the dinner of Christmas, where the rests live on the table.

We decorate tables with a branch of holly, symbol of happiness, jars of lenses or wheat of Saint Barbe and three candles.

The bread is cut in three pieces, by the oldest of the family: a piece for the guests, an other who represents the crumbs and the last one whom we shall keep in a cupboard during one year. We also put a place setting in more for the "poor man", who is in Inhabitant of Nice also " that of the dead man ".

It is the head of the family who receives for the Christmas Eve, and the day of Christmas it is the family which is invited by another parent.


" Lou Cacha fuèc " **: on the evening of the 24th, we put out the fire in the fireplace. The oldest of the family give a log to the youngest to relight a new fire, then they complete with the fruit wood or with the olive tree and splash them with some drops of wine by saying: " Dieù it there pardoned her of veire the year when ven, e li sian no May when noun li siguen not lie " - " God we summits the grace to see next year, and if we shall not be more numerous whom we shall be not less ". It is " hid him fuèc ", expression became "Christmas" "Eve" over time.

** There is the same called rite " the tower of Jul " at the Scandinavian Peoples, which consists in relighting the new fire by throwing "runes" in the fire, engraved the wishes for year to come.


This evening there, we make thin without meat, by tasting 7 dishes *** with fishes and with vegetables: for example celeries, anchovy, pissaladière, pastas prepared for the hand and seasoned by crushed walnuts, cards in her "bagna cauda" - hot sauce with olive oil and with purée of anchovy, some fish in particular the cod in sour soft, snails of our high mountain pastures, ravioli thin in herbs, and especially, no meat nor of cheese.

*** In memory of "7 pains of the Virgin Mary" After this "thin" meal, we go to the Midnight mass, without forgetting to raise four corners of 3 tablecloths stacked on the table, so that the devils do not hang on to go up to devour thirteen desserts which we shall taste on the way back.

25, the next day finally, the lunch consists of a fat meal " big soupà " which makes a wide place for various meats, with sausages and the lamb.

The meal of 25 in the evening, on the other hand, it is " the aiga boulida " - the boiled water, goes out of broth of herbs with thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage and some cloves of garlic.

At every meal we shall remove a tablecloth.

13 desserts:

They have their origin in Provence and the trade made that the Tradition propagated in all the South. Every family adapts the implementation with desserts and fruits according to its wealth and its harvest.

We can see on the table: "tourta of blea" - pie of Swiss chards, the fougasse in the orange blossom, the winter medlars, the sweet braids, the bread in pine nuts, fougasse in the anise, the pump in the oil takes out of bread molded in the oil, the dough of quinces, tarts in walnuts and in jam, white nougat, black nougat, dates, candied fruits, dried fruits, mandarins, oranges, apples, pears in the wine, the creams, the doughnuts, the chestnuts, with also the representation of 4 begging orders: almonds "li amèndoula" for the "Carmelites" (brown garment), the dry figs"li fica seca" for the "Franciscans" (in grey clothes), raisins "read asebic" for the "Dominicans" (in the dress of ecru color), and walnuts "li nouòe" and hazelnuts "Li avelana" for "Augustin" (sinks dress ). Finally we can make " Capuchin friar's nougat " by putting half a walnut in a dry index card. We water these desserts of a fortified wine pulled besides grape harvests and we drink some wine muscatel wine sweetened to accompany them. This tradition of 13 deserts redraws symbolically the last meal of the Christ together with 12 Apostles.

The Day-nursery - Lou Presèpi:

The Tradition of the Day-nursery in Nice country is omnipresent - Lou Presèpi. It is one of more former customs of the County. His origin goes back to the XIIIth century when Saint Francis of Assisi conceived this representation of the Christmas which widely developed in all Europe and which became a specific art over the years.

Christmas crib figures - small saints, cultural and ethnological witnesses(batons) of our past are set up in a ritual way. The tracks of our Presèpi, passed on from generation to generation in a oral way, would go back to the XVIIIth century, by 1760, respectively in districts Santa-Clara - Saint Claire then lowered to saint François of the Tower. Our day-nursery consists in a original way, because only Marie, Joseph, the donkey, the ox and Jesus appear there.

Bibliography :

- Miquelina GILARDETTI BENVENUTTI (Institute of studies of Nice 1993) " Live and Christmas crib figures of Nice and the County - Traditions Calendales and representations of the Christmas ",

- Paul CANESTRIER (1985) " popular parties and religious traditions in Nice country "

- Alex BENVENUTO (Lou Sourgentin)

- Laurent and Claude ESSE  " Recipes of the County of Nice "    




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