Santons Fair: the event in December!
Socosy in and out
You have decided to stay in Marseilles during the Christmas holidays. And you’re thrilled that the ecological Saint Louis hotel is next to one of the preferred events in Provence: Santons Fair.
Santons Fair: an institution in Marseilles
Santons Fair is one of the most popular traditions in Marseilles. Its origins go back to the aftermath of the Revolution. The Marseilles tradition of the santons fair grew out of the popular enthusiasm for the celebration of the Nativity and the appearance of this typically Provençal figurine which is the Santon (the Christmas crib figure).
The Marseilles Santons fair starts each year on the last Sunday of November and runs until 31 December.
An inauguration symbolising Provencal folklore
Its inauguration is carried out to the sound of tambourines and in the presence of folk groups at the end of the Mass of the Santon makers celebrated in Provence, in the Reformed church at the top of the Canebière. If you wish to buy a santon (figurine) to place in your nativity scene, you’ll be spoiled for choice, as each santon maker has a particular style. Some make quite large figurines, others prefer the miniature ones. All the trades of the last century are represented by the figurines: the baker and his basket of fougasses (type of flat bread), the garlic trader, the fishmonger, the farmhand and lantern, the fisherman and his net on his shoulder, the woman with the jug that has just collected fresh water.
The Provencal nativity scene
Many families still make it. The preparations starts in November. It is therefore necessary to collect stones, earth, moss, thyme in the scrubland to be included the areas of the decoration. Sometimes ingenious systems allow the water to flow, simulating a fountain, waterfall or pond. Then it just remains for the Holy Family and the figurines that come to celebrate the Nativity to be arranged.