Celebration Provençale

November 2011

Dear Friends,

     Christmas and the New Year are celebrated in a distinctive way in Southern France. A traditional piece of theater called “Pastorale provençale” is performed. It goes back to the Medieval mystery plays. Skits and routines are featured, all culminating in a crèche scene that gathers the different personalities from the area, as well as Mary and Joseph and the animals. A bit chaotic, yet it is meant to represent the coming of Jesus Christ for every kind of person. Families then go home to celebrate the “repas maigre,” a sparse meal, which really isn’t! Dessert, for example, is “les treize desserts,” that is, thirteen different dishes, plus “la pompe à l’huile,” a marvelous olive oil flavored bread.

     New Year’s Eve, combined with the Feast of Saint Sylvestre, is a bit more for friends beyond the family. It features the “réveillon,” a party where you eat and eat, and stay up until the clock sounds midnight. Today, even unbelievers enjoy these feasts. The church has a great opportunity to remind everyone what it is all about. Surprisingly, many French people are quite open to such a reminder.

     We can (almost) take you there! As Christmas approaches once more, we have a special offer for our donors. If you send in a gift of $200 or more, before December, we will send you a CD called La Nativité. Recorded in 1984 by the choir of the seminary in Aix, conducted by the incomparable Gerald Boyer, assisted by Eleanore Boyer, it is gorgeous. One of the soloists is Kim Tran whom some of you heard at our “Chairs for the Chair” event in September.

     And, if this is above your budget, then for $100 we will send you a beautiful 2012 calendar with Phil Barackman’s pictures of Provence, all designed by our dear friend, Judith Mitchell. And if you want both, you can have them for $250.

     We are coming close to the finish line on the Boice Chair. These gifts could get us there. Many thanks for all of your faithfulness and generosity. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

Very Truly Yours,

William Edgar, President