Les 13 Desserts de Provence

“Les treize desserts” is an old Christmas tradition in Provence. Thirteen desserts are enjoyed after Christmas Eve dinner, traditionally representing Jesus and his twelve Apostles. Each guest must eat all thirteen in order to guarantee good luck for the year to come (13 is the minimum, we are presenting 14 here).

  • Amandes (Almonds) are one of the “Four Beggars” representing the monastic order of the Carmelites
  • Figues Séchées (Dried Figs) are another of the “Four Beggars” and represent the monastic order of the Franciscans.
  • Raisins Secs (Raisins) are also part of the “Four Beggars” and represent the Dominicans monastic order
  • Noix ou Noisettes (Walnuts or Hazelnuts) are the last of the “Four Beggars” and represent the Augustines monastic order
  • Nougat Blanc (White Nougat) represents Good and the Winter Solstice, the long bright days…
  • Nougat Noir (Black Nougat) … to the long dark days, represented by the black nougat, which also illustrates evil
  • Calissons (Calissons) are an almond and melon candy from Aix-en-Provence, very sweet and delicious
  • Fruit Frais (Fresh Fruits) can be oranges, pears, apples or clementines from Corsica (our favourite choice!)
  • Pâte de Coing (Quince Paste) is a must on the treize desserts table in our region, as our village of Cotignac is known for its quinces
  • Dattes (Dates) symbolise the arrival of the Christ from the Middle East. Some people say you must find the letter ‘o’ on the pits, which is apparently what Mary or Baby Jesus exclaimed at the sight of the fruit
  • Chocolat (Chocolate) is added depending on the region. We like t o have chocolate olives, which are chocolate coated almonds shaped like olives!
  • Fruit Confits/Pâtes de Fruits (Candied Fruits/Fruit Pastes) are a great addition on top of the calisson and quince paste
  • Navettes are orange blossom flavoured biscuits found in the Marseille region
  • Pompe à l’Huile are a famous sweet bread made with olive oil and orange blossom. It is claimed to be as old as the city of Marseille. And should be broken to illustrate the last supper (never cut with a knife).

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into this traditional Provençal tradition!

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