A European Christmas with French Santons

“Santons”. . . A Christmas tradition

It’s November and the winds carry a hint of Christmas already. The varied Christmas traditions around the world also begin to emerge once more with their distinct colors and charisms. We can think of the elaborate Italian nativity scenes, and the German Christmas wood carousel candles. We can conjure the smells of roasted chestnuts hovering over European outdoor Christmas markets with handmade items of every sort. In America we can imagine the exuberant burst of Christmas lights and the joyful arrangements of Christmas caroler figurines in front windows. What a wonderful time of year! In the south of France, a really special tradition of making clay figurines called “santons” is part of their Joyeux Noel.

Santons are characters from life

“Santons” are clay characters from everyday life — bakers, fisherman and physicians, seamstresses and gypsies, basket weavers and peddlers, vendors and local characters of every age and stripe, who are all bearing the gifts of who they are, and the work of their hands, to the Manger, where the Christ-child lay with Mary and Joseph and all of the other traditional Nativity figures.

And so, the seamstress brings fabrics, the basket weaver brings baskets, the peddler brings his wares, the farmer his produce or livestock, etc. Each character has his or her story, which is carried as gift to the Manger, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary because of the blessing of the little receiver of the gifts, the poor babe in swaddling clothes. All are welcome. All are called to become “saints” in their ordinary, poor, customary paths, as the name “santon” implies. What a lovely and meaningful tradition! Santon fairs have been held in Marseilles and Aix en Provence since the very early 1800’s, and visitors to France can expect to find such fairs even today, in early December.

Santons on Sale!

Dear Little Dollies is happy to bring some of these vintage santon characters to you today, at our doll shop! Made in France by French artisans, and brought to us through Blythe Imports and Francesca dolls, we currently have in stock a small gathering of these little clay ordinary “saints”, which we are offering as part of our very special final Christmas season at 418 Bedford Ave, at 75% off of the regular retail price!

We have so few, so don’t miss the opportunity to bring one into your home this Christmas . . . Come see the Peddler Man and the Balloon Vendor Woman, or the French Bride by Francesca, or the Cradle Maker Woman, the Gypsy Woman with Child, the Basket Weaver Woman, the Dairy Farmer Woman with her Chicken, by Blythe Imports. These are very unique items, and we are delighted to share them, and their cultural history, with you this season!

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