Right, a new feature! Each month we are going to 'spotlight' some creature from the local wildlife. This month we thought we would mention the heron - as over the past few months there has been a particularly large number of both grey herons and egrets (grand aigrette). We have had them visiting our pond and also the ponds and small lakes nearby:
Regular Blog readers will recall that we have been developing two 'commune events' each year - a 'BruelFest' in the summer and a 'WinterFest' around New Year. So this year, for the WinterFest, we decided to do a 'Treize Desserts' event, with a 'Best Hat to welcome the New Year' competition!
The 'Treize Desserts' idea is a very old one (certainly dating back to the 17th century) and seems to have roots in many different regions and countries - but particularly in Southern Europe. Confusingly the number of desserts is not always 13 and the types of dessert vary from region to region. But, broadly speaking, the desserts relate to various aspects of the Christian celebration of Christmas - so, for example, there are always preserved fruits, which represent the different mendiant orders:
- Augustines (walnuts)
- Franciscans (figs)
- Carmelites (almonds)
- Dominicans (raisins)
And there is always a sweet yeast 'loaf' (fougasse), which must be broken, never cut, to represent Jesus' breaking of bread. There are dates and other tropical fruit to represent the Wise Kings; black and white nougats, representing 'evil' and 'good'; and, of course, the 'galettes du roi' - the circular pastry, filled with marzipan, that contains the 'fevre' (bean) and whoever gets the bean becomes king for the day .... so, some relationship here to more pagan celebrations in midwinter.
We had been unwell over Christmas and so the invitations went out quite late - so we were unsure how many people would turn up, particularly as the weather has been very chilly. But it all went very well - about 40 people came, French, Dutch and English ... with ages ranging from 6 to 94! And there were some very splendid hats - but some clear winners, for most original hat, most colourful hat and best children's hat(s). Here's a small selection of photos, with the preparation of the room, the barn and tables and then the event in 'full swing' and pictures of the winning hats!
So, a good time was had by all involved - a suitably eccentric and joyful occasion to welcome a new year that may need a powerful dose of positive 'vibes'!