Wooden decoration, blown glass ball, wreath of fir trees, gingerbread … Behind Christmas traditions hides know-how, for some ancestral and that some craftsmen do not hesitate to twist. Plunge into the heart of these skills that shape the magic of Christmas.
Blow the balls of the tree
Did you know that the Christmas ball was born in the Vosges mountains? In any case, this is what the legend tells that during the winter of 1858, a glassblower from Goetzenbruck had the idea of blowing a few glass balls to decorate the tree in place of the fruit that was lacking. Since then, this know-how has been perpetuated at the Meisenthal International Center for Glass Art . Each year, a collection is created in collaboration with an artist. After “Arti” in 2018 and “Lab” in 2019, we are embarking this year aboard the Magma intra-terrestrial exploration capsule, designed by the duo formed by Emma Pflieger and Antoine Foeglé.
Work the wood
After the Meisenthal blown glass ball, we continue decorating the tree with handcrafted wooden subjects. At Miwitipee, we sand, we cut, we glue. The result is a wooden Christmas collection that dusted off the genre: graphic Christmas tree suspensions, flakes worked like lace but also decorative wooden animals to assemble, Christmas landscape to put near the tree or even decorations for logs and cakes.
In Alsace, the heart, a protective symbol very present throughout the territory, 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. There are also suspensions in the shape of animals, fir trees or characters from the crib. Special mention for the pretzel, which will delight the most greedy!
Sculpt the santons.
Once the tree has been decorated, we get down to the crib, this skit reconstructing the nativity using santons. These terracotta figures are traditionally handcrafted by santonniers in Provence., of which they are one of the emblems. The life of the santon begins with the creation of a clay silhouette, which is then used to create the mold. Many steps and great thoroughness are then necessary in order to give birth to a subject: molding, drying, retouching, firing and finally decoration.
If the best-known santons are those of the Nativity (the Holy Family, the Three Kings or even the Angel Gabriel), today we find something to reconstitute a true typical Provençal village: merchants of all kinds, shepherds, Arles women, bakers, peasants, parish priests, without forgetting the essential “delighted”. Each year, we expand our collection during santon fairs, of which the oldest, that of Marseille, has existed for more than 200 years!
Enhance the spices
Here is a tradition which comes to us from the east of France, and more particularly from Alsace. As the end of the year celebrations approach, 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 bread to share, each pastry chef uses his personal touch to make his creation unique.
At Mireille Oster, where gingerbread is a family know-how that has spanned generations since the 1930s, we work with spices but also new ingredients from all over the world, such as goji berries, dates. or ginger.
On the side of Christophe Felder’s kitchens , we insist on the importance of spices, which the pastry chef does not hesitate to go to find tens of thousands of kilometers from his native Alsace.
Just like decorating the tree, hanging the Christmas wreath on the door or above the fireplace signals the start of the magical holiday season. But where does this tradition come from? Originally, the wreath made of fir branches and decorations also featured four candles representing the four weeks leading up to Christmas, the Advent period.
Today, designers are revisiting this tradition of Christmas wreaths. In Normandy, in the Pays d’Auge, Escapade Champêtre has made dried flower creations its specialty. For the end of the year celebrations, the designer composes wreaths mixing immortelle, pine cones, preserved foliage or even wild grasses in shades of red, green and white. A wreath that will continue to adorn the living room long after the holidays!
Magnify the almond
© annapustynnikova / Adobe Stock – Calissons, an almond-based confectionery typical of Provence.
Dried fruits, almonds, citrus fruits, fresh and candied fruits, nougats… We do not have to pray to follow the Provençal tradition of the 13 desserts ! Alongside these sweets, we feast on calissons, another Provencal specialty whose know-how dates back to the 15th century. The Roy René confectionery, in Aix-en-Provence, continues this ancestral tradition with its classic calissons, almond and candied fruit, yellow lacquered with white. To brighten up your festive table, let yourself be tempted by the colorful variations with original flavors: strawberry-basil, chocolate-hazelnut or even clementine-cocoa.