Blowing out the tree balls in the Vosges
Did you know that the Christmas bauble was born in the Vosges Mountains? At least that's what the legend says, that during the winter of 1858, a glassblower from the village of Goetzenbruck, in Moselle, had the idea of blowing a few glass balls to decorate the tree instead of the fruit that was missing. Since then, this know-how has been perpetuated at the International Glass Art Centre in Meisenthal. Each year, a collection is created in collaboration with an artist. This year, the designer Nicolas Verschaeve is inspired by industrial bottle tops with the "Extra" Christmas bauble, which highlights local know-how. Daring! We take the opportunity to visit the newly renovated glassworks.
Woodworking in Occitania
After the blown glass ball from Meisenthal, we continue the decoration of the tree with handcrafted wooden subjects. At Miwitipee, in Toulouse, in Occitania, we sand, cut and glue. The result is a Christmas collection of decorative and sustainable objects made in France from wood, which have taken the genre out of fashion: graphic tree hangers, lace-like snowflakes, but also decorative wooden animals to be assembled like reindeer, Christmas landscapes to be placed near the tree like a forest, decorations for logs and cakes, and even an advent calendar...
In Alsace, the heart, a protective symbol that is very present throughout the region, is also available as a decoration for the tree. In wood and fabrics, stained wood or even openwork wood, there is a choice at Au p'tit bonheur. You can also find hangers in the shape of animals, fir trees or even characters from the cot. Special mention for the wooden pretzel with white dots.
Sculpting santons of Provence
Once the tree has been decorated, Christmas tradition requires that the nativity scene, which recreates the Nativity with the help of santons, be set up. These terracotta figures are handmade by santonniers in Provence, of which they are one of the emblems. An ancestral knowledge of celebration. It all starts with the creation of a clay silhouette, which is then used to create the mould. Numerous stages and a great deal of meticulousness are then necessary to give birth to a subject: moulding, drying, retouching, firing and finally decoration.
If the most famous santons are those of the Nativity (the Holy Family, the Three Wise Men or the Angel Gabriel), today you can find everything you need to recreate a typical Provençal village: merchants, shepherds, Arles women, bakers, farmers, priests, without forgetting the inevitable "ravi". Every year, the collection is enlarged during the santon fairs, the oldest of which, the one in Marseille, has existed for over 200 years!
Sublimating spices in Alsace
This is a tradition that comes from eastern France, and more particularly from Alsace. As the festive season approaches, the characteristic smell of spices mixed with honey fills the streets of Alsatian towns and villages. In the shape of a heart, a man or a loaf of bread to share, each pastry chef adds his own personal touch to make his creation unique.
At Mireille Oster's in Strasbourg, where gingerbread is a traditional skill that has been passed down through the generations since the 1930s, they work with spices but also with new ingredients from the four corners of the world, such as goji berries, dates or ginger.
In the kitchens of Christophe Felder, in the Alsatian village of Mutzig, you will fall in love with the famous Kougelhopf with sultanas or christollen with candied fruit, without publishing the gingerbread with its creative shapes (Father Christmas, Christmas tree or snowman) and multiple flavours (candied lemon, quetsch, figs).
Braiding Christmas wreaths in Normandy
Just like decorating the tree, hanging the Christmas wreath on the door or over the fireplace signals the beginning of the magical holiday season. But where does this tradition come from? Originally, the wreath made of tree branches and decorations also included four candles representing the four weeks before Christmas, the Advent period.
Today, designers are revisiting this Christmas wreath tradition. In the Pays d'Auge in Normandy, Escapade Champêtre has made dried flower creations its speciality. For the festive season, the designer creates wreaths and centrepieces on wicker hoops, combining ivy and other stabilised foliage, pine cones and wild grasses in shades of red, green and white. A wreath that will continue to adorn the living room long after the holidays!
Magnifying the almond of Provence
Dried fruits, nougats, oil pumps, candied fruits... We are not afraid to follow the Provencal tradition of 13 desserts! Amongst these sweets, we enjoy calissons, a Provencal speciality whose know-how dates back to the 15th century. In Aix-en-Provence, La confiserie du Roy René perpetuates this ancestral tradition with its collection of classic calissons, with almonds and candied fruits, yellow lacquered with white. To brighten up your festive table, try the colourful variations with original flavours: strawberry-basil, chocolate-hazelnut or even clementine-cocoa...