Posted on November 12, 2012 | 0 Comments
In March 2012 we published Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche - a list of the top 20 Santons included in the creche by the Provençal people. The Santon figure The Old Couple - Les Vieux (French) - Li Viei (Provençaux) was the fourth most vital Santon to be included in the Provençal creche and is available in all four Marcel Carbonel Santons sizes offered by My Growing Traditions. They are also known by their first names in the Provençaux language: Grasset (the old man) and Grasseto (the old woman).
The Santon "the Old Couple" derives from the pastorale play "La Bistagne" composed by Bistagne and Gauthier and from the old "Creche-Parlante" - speaking creche. Pastorales are Provençal Christmas plays that tell the story of the birth of Christ. They are presented each year by Provençal villagers and are a part of the oral history passed down from generation to generation on Christmas Eve. The Provençal nativity uniquely consists of the biblical characters in traditional biblical dress with typical Provençal village characters, in 19th century dress, who have come to the manger to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
The Old Couple, the plump, elderly man and woman, walk slowly and with tenderness, arm-in-arm, to the crib. They wear their finest clothes to honor the Savior. She wears a white cotton headdress, with a printed scarf over her shoulders and a simple apron, both of Provençal prints. He is in his best suit and may carry a lantern to light their way. They may bring with them a variety of gifts: a wicker basket of food (containing perhaps fruit, quince, or goat cheese), dried cod, and garlic. She is slightly stooped. They are happy in their old age. They come to the manger to express their thanks for the blessings they have received, and their request is a simple one: to leave this life together as they have lived it day-in-day-out. They are important to the creche as they represent the fidelity of a couple in old age - the contentedness of two lives well-lived, entwined. Together, they embody the worthiness of life.