Tonight it was still, cold and clear up at Taizé and a goodly number of people had gathered for the Christmas service. The nativity scene is almost complete with the addition of baby Jesus to the crib. The Three Kings will take another couple of weeks to arrive, coming from afar as they do.
The nearby villages also make great effort to present their tableaux. The prize for originality must go to the village of Confrançon for their depiction of the manger scene. On the roof of the stable is one of the storks from Cormatin Chateau carrying the awaited baby in its beak. The baby is actually a Smurf. The storks have been rather busy this year as there are quite a lot of Smurfs in Cormatin too.
Happy Christmas to everyone!
I thought I might keep my head under the duvet until it’s all over. I’ve always found horrible things happen at Christmas, both on a personal and an international scale. So we try not to travel at Christmas and encourage family to visit in summer instead. This Christmas we have the storms, not as bad here as in northern France and the UK but I would think we won’t get a visit from Father Christmas as he will be grounded.
The Three Wise Men sheltering from the wind
Going to Taizé for the Christmas service tonight was well worth battling against the weather. On the hill the wind was trying to tear off the roof off the Church. The Three Wise Men had been inching their way towards the crib all week and had wisely taken shelter in the enclosure under the heatlamp with the hens. But Mary looked unperturbed, sitting beside her tiny infant.
The nativity scene at Taizé
I’m sure the jinx on Christmas will be offset tomorrow as we are joining a local family for a Christmas meal and games. Until then, under the duvet again!
ps In the New Year we have been walking in the woods at Mont Saint-Romain and seeing some of the damage from the wind on Christmas Eve. There has been a domino effect with the wind cutting a swathe through the forest bringing down both beech and pine.
The paths have been cleared but there are more trees hung up precariously on their neighbours which will come down in the next wind.
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!