We went to Taizé last week as we wanted to see the tableau. We had been told that the scene would feature only Mary and Joseph; the kings and shepherds would arrive after the baby is born. Right enough, a pregnant Mary was awaiting the birth and the kings on their camels were on their way. For a bit of realism there was a donkey and some sheep, live ones I mean.
So when we went to Taizé for the Christmas Eve mass the first thing we looked for was the crib and lo and behold the infant Christ had appeared.
- The baby Jesus had arrived
However the wise men were still on their way, umbrellas up even though it was a beautiful starlit night.
The wise men expecting rain
And the shepherds were still keeping their sheep with the angel Gabriel suspended above them.
The Angel Gabriel hovers over the shepherds
The clear cold night gave way to a beautiful day today with sunshine and blue skies. We’ll go back soon and see if the kings have managed to get as far as the stable.
Tonight is the occasion of the second réveillon, the first taking place on Christmas Eve. The name comes from the verb meaning ‘waking’ (or staying awake!) because the réveillon is a meal which starts very late and goes on until 4 am, often with ten or more courses. At Christmas the meal is shared with family, whereas on New Year’s Eve it is celebrated with friends.
Everytime I have switched on the TV lately there has been a short programme showing us yet another way to serve foie gras. And endless reports about the harvesting of oysters and mussels, or buying lobsters at the fish market. Shellfish is a must for réveillon, as is champagne, although in Burgundy of course we drink crémant which I much prefer.
Mistletoe on our gate
We’ve been out this afternoon to get some mistletoe from the woods. We learned last year that mistletoe is not to be used at Christmas, only at New Year. At the stroke of midnight you kiss your loved ones under the mistletoe to ensure prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. Another thing that I have found different in France is that you do not wish people a Happy New Year before New Year’s Day. Oooops!
Cards don’t seem to be much in evidence. They may be sent to family who you will not see at Christmas, but not to friends and neighbours who you see often. Cards are more for New Year and are not so prolific as in the UK. At a couple of euros each I am not surprised!
Thankfully we are a million miles from Paris where it seems there is a competition every New Year’s Eve to see which gang can burn the most cars in each district. Apparently last year the official figure was 1137 cars. M. Sarkozy is going to keep quiet about the extent of this year’s mayhem so as to discourage people by not giving them some record to break next year.
No French réveillon for us though. We are going to have roast pork and crémant, then wander down to Cluny to see if anything’s going on. We have booked to go riding tomorrow so we have to be in a fit state!
Our village this week
In common with the rest of Europe we have had a White Christmas. But I think we cannot be beaten as regards peace and tranquillity. We were happy to spend Christmas ‘snowed in’, that is, we take note of the ‘only drive if necessary’ advice and we have felt no compulsion to risk getting stuck on the hill or to skid into a ditch. The only traffic past our house has been the farmer on his tractor taking hay to the horses and cattle.
Horses in the snow
With the family not being able to get here this year my bank account thinks I’ve cut up my cards. For weeks we haven’t been shopping except occasionally for food and we started the winter well stocked up. No more being reduced to a diet of crackers and Marmite as last year.
We see on the UK news that the shops are already full of bargain hunters from the crack of dawn on Boxing Day. Not so here. In France the sales are regulated by the government and they don’t start until January 12 . Anyway most businesses and commerçants seem to on holiday until after New Year.
A peaceful walk through the wood
So here’s to hibernation. We’ll see you in March!
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.