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French Christmas: The thirteen desserts

Talking about Christmas food, what is the first thing come up to you? Roasted chicken, pudding or stuffing? Christmas is a festival that being celebrated all around the world, and there’s different Christmas tradition in different country.


In Provence, every family will gather together and enjoy a traditional Christmas meal calls The Big Supper (le gros souper) and it ends with a ritual 13 desserts – The thirteen desserts (lei tretze dessèrts) signifying Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. The meal and desserts are eaten before the family goes to midnight mass on Christmas. For every family, they have their own tradition of which 13 desserts they will be eating after The Big Supper. But usually the desserts incorporate sweets, fresh fruit, nougat.

Credit: Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

Buche de Noël

Buche de Noël (A Yule log) is a common French dessert served near Christmas, but also get served as part of the 13 desserts in Provence. Made of sponge cake to resemble a miniature actual Yule log, it is a form of sweet roulade.

buche de noel


Fougasse is a stunning French flatbread that is similar to Italian focaccia, dating back to Roman times. It is usually made with anchovies and coated in cheese. Fougasse tastes the best when it is served warm from the oven. During the Christmas dinner, you are supposed to torn the bread into a small pieces and eat it with your hands, then you’ll be protected from bankruptcy in the coming year.

The four beggars: almonds, raisins, dried figs, and nuts

The four beggars represent four monastic orders which offer aid to the homeless: dried figs for the Franciscans, almonds for the Carmelites, raisins for the Dominicans, and nuts for the Augustines.

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the four beggars
black and white nogat

White and black nougat

The white and black nougat are served to represent good (white) and evil (black). But also, they mark the passage to the winter solstice, the longest night of the year.


Calissons are a traditional French candy made of finely ground almonds, melon and topped with a thin layer of royal icing. Calisson is a specialty of Aix-en-Provence. There is a story about the origin of calisson, which the candy was first created in 1454 for the wedding of King Rene to Jeanne de Laval who never smiled until she tasted this special treat.


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