The Gypsy – the Ninth (9th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on November 06, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Gypsy - La Bohemienne (French) - Lou Boumian (Provençaux)  – is number 9 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche. They are available in various versions in all four Marcel Carbonel Santons sizes offered by My Growing Traditions.

Their inclusion in the Santons' creche first occurred in 1820 and originates with early productions of the nativity story, in the Creche-Parlante and in Antoine Maurel’s Pastorale.

The bohemians include those known as Gypsies, the Tzians, and the Gitans. As a group they have long lived in Provence. They have their own patron Saint - Saint Sara. Every year on May 24 there is a pilgrimmage in the Camargue in her honor. The gypsies are of swarthy complexion and live a nomadic life travelling in caravans throughout Provence in colorful, horse-drawn carts doing whatever they can to eke out a living.

In August 1888, Vincent Van Gogh, who spent some time in Provence, especially Arles, created this wonderful oil painting:  The Caravans - Gypsy Camp Near Arles

Dressed in clothing of the colors of the rainbow, with a scarf around their neck, and wearing a traditional pleated skirt, Gypsy women are known for playing their tambourines, singing, dancing, and telling fortunes. They ask for whatever contribution the audiences may wish to give.  In Sizes #1 (Cricket), #2 (Elite) and #3 (Grande) the gypsy woman carries a tambourine and her baby. In Size Puce (Flea) she has a monkey by her side.

The men entertain as well with their animals at village festivals, here with their bears - available in all four sizes

and here with a guitar - available in Size #2 and Size #1 -

but the men also provide a variety of itinerant services: fixing farm equipment, repairing wheels, clipping dogs, reseating chairs, and repairing pots and pans.

The gypsies are watched closely, and in fact are often feared, by the villagers as they have a reputation for thievery to include whatever they may find useful, including chickens, and even children. The Gypsy and the Highwayman are often interchanged in being blamed for the stealing of the Blind Man's son. Sometimes the Tramp is seen to have wicked intentions and is clumped together with them.

They are included in the celebration of Christ's birth (an indication of the realization of how far the depth of redemption extends) - although they are said to have stayed at a safe distance from the manger, due to their reputation for stealing babies.

The former pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire, Father Charles DesRuisseaux, has a Santons collection once displayed annually at the diocesan museum. He tells the legend  of the "Gypsy Séraphin who hears the Angel Boufarèu blow his trumpet to announce that le Bon Dieu (the Good God) 'has become a daddy.' For the first time in his life, Séraphin feels guilty for stealing. He tries to give Mary the stolen chicken and eggs, but Mary tells him, 'I realize you have a big heart, but my Son would prefer that you give them back to their owner.'. . . From that day, the Gypsy never stole again.”

For photos of the history and workshop of Carbonel enjoy our Marcel Carbonel Santons board on Pinterest.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas



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