Bavarian Stables - Perfect for Santons or Helbig Nativity Figures

Posted on November 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

We have expanded our offerings in wooden stables this year.  We are always looking for the best. These hand-crafted in Bavaria stables are stellar pieces of folk art in their own right, and work ever so well with Carbonel's Santons or the nativity figures from the Emil Helbig workshop.

For Carbonel Size #3 - the Grande - 3-1/2" size - this stable is perfection...

On a wooden platform, wooden and plaster walls, a hay crib - click here or on the image above to see close-ups of the architectural detail.

For Carbonel Size #2 - the Elite - 2-3/4" size and for the Emil Helbig Workshop nativity figures, choose between these Bavarian stables. Again, they are of wood and plaster, and are superbly crafted.


Bavarian Folk Art for display of your chosen nativity figures.
To find them click on the images above or click here 
My Growing Traditions offers Free Shipping for all three of these stables.
We know you will find them to be exceptional!



Posted in Carbonel Santons, Emil Helbig, French Christmas, German Christmas, German Folk Art, German Traditions, Nativities

Pope Francis and Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Nativities and Santons

Posted on November 07, 2015 | 0 Comments

The visit of Pope Francis to the United States this year was to so many of us inspirational - inspirational and a breath of fresh air. 

He is named, of course, after Saint Francis of Assisi. With his traditional humility, he says he was nudged by a Papal friend "not to forget the poor." Yet, his own deep-seated persona so thoroughly embraced the name - Saint Francis of Assisi was a man of poverty, a man of peace, a man who loves and protects the natural world.  

Marcel Carbonel's Saint Francis has always been a popular Santon. He is the patron saint of nativities and of santonniers. He spiked in popularity with Pope Francis' election in 2013, and now is even more beloved as a commemoration of Pope Francis' US visit.

He is the patron saint of animals, merchants, and ecology. Find him by clicking here or on the photo above - he is in Size #2 - the Elite Size.

What a perfect year to add him to your collection!

Enjoy our Marcel Carbonel Pinterest Board.


Posted in Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Nativities, Provence Christmas

It Turns Out that the Donkey of Provence - l'Âne Provence - Le Bourriquet - is Special Indeed

Posted on November 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

We have always found Marcel Carbonel's pack donkeys to be very special. They are one of our favorite figures and are definitely more than cherished by our customers.

Carbonel provides us with three pack donkeys - the Donkey with baskets of fruit, the Donkey with sacks of flour, and the Donkey with fagots (bundles of wood). Shown here is the Donkey with Fagots in Size #3 - Click here to find them in Sizes #1 - 3.

Personally, our first experience with pack donkeys was in Morocco in the mid-1960s. Travelling in southern Morocco we would experience them in the mountains, traveling with their families, packed to the gills with all their possessions, young animals, and the youngest members of their families alike. We early learned to slow our pace to allow them to prevail on the road.  Although not taken by us nor in Morocco, this photo always brings back those wonderful memories.

Memories that come to mind as we wrap up your pack donkeys ever so carefully - knowing how much joy they will bring you!

It turns out the donkey of Provence is special to us, and ever so special to Provence.


They came close to dying out. But, the people of Provence have made certain that would not happen.

They were especially bred for strength to help shepherds with sheep herding and the seasonal migrations - transhumance. The earliest records of Shepherds of Provence using pack donkeys dates to the fifteenth century, particularly during the seasonal migrations between the low ground where the sheep over-winter and the high alpine pastures where the sheep spend the summer months.

The donkeys of Provence were selected for their solid bone structure for carrying heavy loads, their docile temperament and good legs to carry them along the shepherds' migratory paths. The donkeys are outfitted with pack saddles that carry the equipment and supplies needed by the shepherds along the journey.  

Modern transportation caused a sharp decline in the population of the Provence donkey (13,000 at the end of the 19th century, 2000 in 1956, and 330 in 1993. In December 1992 a breeder's association, the Association de l'Âne de Provence, was formed. They worked with the Haras National, in Languedoc-Roussillon to achieve recognition of the breed. In November 2002 the Provence donkey received the official recognition of the French ministry of agriculture. The current population is estimated at 1500. 

One can understand why they are an integral part of Provence heritage and thus, are important figures in the Marcel Carbonel creche. 

Enjoy our Marcel Carbonel Pinterest Board - Click here / and our Pinterest Board on Pack Donkeys - Click here

Posted in About Us, Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Nativities, Provence Christmas

Miniatures - Putz - for your Christmas Village or Nativity Scene

Posted on October 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

We have added charming miniatures this year - perfect for use with your French Santons or German nativity scenes. These are just a few examples - baskets, wood, metal, copper, clay.

To find the miniatures and trees below, simply click on the images


They work well alongside the Carbonel accessories available for each size of Santons, and with the Erzgebirge Emil Helbig Workshop nativity figures and creche sets. 


The German verb putzen means to decorate and one commonly finds the word putz to describe miniatures for a Christmas Village or Nativity Scene. Putz, miniatures, accessories, whatever one calls them, they add a very special touch to your Christmas. The traditional nativity figures, a few larger accessories, a few miniatures, and a few trees -

create a tableau, small or large, that is special to you. In both Provence and Germany, each year families wait for the Christmas fairs during Advent to find new treasures to add to their nativities (just as we in America rejoice in adding new Christmas ornaments to our trees).

Enjoy all adds up to a bit of wonder!

To follow our Pinterest Board on Putz - Click here

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Christmas Traditions, Emil Helbig, Erzgebirge, French Christmas, German Christmas, German Folk Art, German Traditions, Nativities, Provence Christmas, Trees

New for 2015 - Carbonel Santons Horse - Cheval - Size #2

Posted on October 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Every year the Marcel Carbonel Santons workshop in Marseille creates new Santons.

For 2015 we have a superb introduction to the nativity procession - a horse in the Elite / Size #2 size.          

A sturdy addition to the farm yard animals - enjoy adding him to your creche this year.  

Follow our Marcel Carbonel Santons Pinterest Board - Click here             


Posted in Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Nativities, Provence Christmas

Creating Your Own Santons Village

Posted on December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

At the November 2014 opening of an exhibition of thirty Christmas nativity scenes and creches from around the world at the University of Notre Dame, Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M., Director of Research and Special Projects at the University of Dayton, Ohio, delivered a lecture entitled: “The Crèche: A Celebration of Christmas and Culture.”

Roten spoke of the fact that crèches illustrate the close relationship between culture and religion and that there are "three fundamental ways of looking at nativity traditions, which can be categorized as “mountain” (Latin origin), “landscape” (German tradition) or “village"..... 

The 'village' is found in crèches of the French tradition, especially those of the Provence region.... All inhabitants of the village... come to the manger...." The 'village is an expression of the global village, but also of theological harmony. "We have on the one hand great unity and on the other great diversity around the baby in the manger.”

He speaks, of course, of the Provençal tradition of the Santons' Creche, where the biblical figures (in biblical dress) are celebrated by villagers of all kinds (in the dress of 18th and 19th century southern France) - young and old, rich and poor, and from all walks of life.

The 'village' of the creche is celebrated not only by its diversity of the figures, but also by displaying them in a true 'village' scene. It is common for families to build their own Santons' dioramas and for Provençal villages and towns to build even larger ones that are displayed during the Advent season and even in their museums year round

The Carbonel Studios provide a schematic for creating a village with the larger size Santons (Size #3 - Grande) in the front and building up-hill with perspective, placing the smaller sizes (Size #1 -Cricket and Size Puce - Flea) further back.

Carbonel accessories - houses, wells, windmills, fountains, bridges, porticos, trees, etc. are all available for creating your display.


We have been collecting ideas on creating your own Santons - Nativity village on our My Growing Traditions' Pinterest Board on DIY Santons - Nativity - Dioramas. Enjoy! 


Posted in Carbonel Santons, Christmas Traditions, French Christmas, Nativities, Provence Christmas

The Shepherd's Fair, Istres, Provence, 19 November to 7 December 2014

Posted on November 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every year the town of Istres in Provence celebrates the Shepherd with a two week festival traditionally held in the warmth of late fall/early winter. Founded in 1964, the Shepherd's Fair is a feast of Provençal tradition. Thousands of people attend to enjoy everything pastoral: homage to the transhumance (the seasonal migration of livestock, and the people who tend them, between lowlands and adjacent mountains),

sheep dog trials, music, crafts, food, and a wonderful parade and closing ceremony. All are clearly in love with Provençal tradition, and especially the costumes.We truly enjoyed this video of last year's festival - it is well worth the watch and takes one back to the Provence of the world of Santons.  

We enjoyed seeing the "Santons" we are so familiar with:  especially the White horses of the Camargue, The Drummer (Tambourinaire), The Gardener, The Old Woman from Arles, the Women from Arles, the Shepherds, Sheep, and Goats.

Discovering the Festival and its celebration of the importance of the Shepherd in Provence, certainly made us pleased that we offer the Shepherd's Gift Set. The Shepherd Gift Sets are available in Sizes #1 (Cricket), #2 (Elite), and #3 (Grande) make a nice addition to your collection. 

Save money with each set, which includes the Shepherd, the sheep dog, a sheep, and a hand-shaved tree (Spanbaum) from the Christmas village of Germany, Seiffen. 


Posted in Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Provence Christmas, Trees