Discover the Christmas Traditions of Arles

Born in the village of Saint-Gilles, just 20 kilometers from Arles, Helen Haon is a great fan of Provencal Christmas traditions. A few months before the festivities, she tells us about getting ready for Christmas. There’s plenty to inspire you with the magic of Christmas, well in advance of this special season.
By Justine Fiordelli

For Hélène Haon, head of the B&B La Parade in Arles, one starts getting ready for Christmas at the beginning of December. It’s out of the question for her to disregard the customs of Provence, to which she confers great importance. In her family, preparations begin “on 4 December” with the custom of the Saint Barbara’s Day wheat, a Christmas tradition of planting wheat and lentils in three different cups and thus auguring “health, money and fertility.” A week before Christmas, Helen Haon explains that she concentrates fully on preparing the Christmas nativity. Traditional Provencal figurines, cypress, and fake rocks made from stones... The excitement of Christmas now takes on its full meaning.

On the evening of December 24, the magic and atmosphere settles in gradually. The Christmas tree, holly, the traditional thirteen desserts, midnight mass with the locals... Hélène Haon honors the traditions down to the last detail! On her Christmas table, she explains that she takes care to “lay three white tablecloths on top of each other” that represent the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. As for the meal, it should be “light” and eaten with love. On the menu are artichokes, fish but also the traditional desserts including nuts, almonds and orange blossom fougasse.

The best memory of Helen Haon
The best memory of Helen Haon
The day she brought the child Jesus during the midnight mass at Arles.
DR, Hélène Haon

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