On the table lit by 3 candles, symbol of the Trinity, and decked with the dish of the wheat corn of Sainte Barbe - wheat or lentil, symbol of rebirth - are arranged the Thirteen desserts, symbol of Christ and the 12 apostles.
You can see the green melon sheltering in the straw, the apples and pears still smelling of Autumn, the black and white raisins which each housewife has chosen bunch by bunch and left to dry in the attic under a protective tulle. There are the walnuts, the hazelnuts, the almonds These dried fruit are called "mendiants" or medicants because their colours resemble the habits of the medicant monks: Carmelitess, Dominicans, Franciscans and Capuchins.
There are the figs, oranges, and mandarins that Provence has known since time immemorial. Finally, nougat (the dark nougat is made on the farm with the honey from the nearby hives and the almonds from the orchard, but the white nougat is bought at the confectioner's).
Among the Thirteen desserts, we also count the jams made during the grape harvest either from grape must or fig juice to which one has added autumn fruit, and the flat cake made with oil, called "pompe" in Aix en Provence and Marseille, and "fougasse" in Arles and in Haute Provence.
And then the fortified wine. The fortified wine is Jesus himself.
During her flight to Egypte, when the Virgin Mary, pursued and frightened, tried to hide her child, the date palm parted its leaves; the Mother smiled, the delighted Child said "Oh", and this O formed by his milky lips marked the fruit's pit.
From that, ever since, comes the seed of life. The date remains sacred.
Christmas desserts in Provence