The 13 desserts
The 13 desserts symbolise the Messiah surrounded by his 12 apostles at the time of the Last Super. If the number is imperative, the choice of desserts is rather optional in the list that follows (and which remains open, by the way); some of them are symbolic and anchored in tradition.
Fresh figs are strung and hung up to dry until the winter.They are called beggars in reference to certain religious orders:
Dry grapes (for the Dominicans), Almonds (for the Carmelite friars) Nuts or hazel nuts (for the Augustines)
Pears, Apples, Oranges, Tangerines, Arbutus-berries, Sorb apples, Winter melons (yellow melons kept in the attic), Dates
Conserve of citrons, Quince paste, White nougats & black nougats
The thirteen desserts are all present on the same table and are accompanied by cooked wine.
They conclude the Gros Souper, while waiting to go to midnight mass.
The "Cacho-Fio", the Christmas log
On Christmas Eve, when the table is fully set, tradition requires that one chooses a beautiful log (oak or fruit tree) that the oldest person of the house, helped by the Caganis (the youngest child of the family), places in the hearth so that it is consumed until New Year's Day. Cacho-fiò means "to set on fire" in Provençal dialect.
It is customary in Provence to pronounce the following sentences:
Diéu nous fague la gràci de vèire l'an que vèn, Et se noun sian pas mai, que noun fuguen pas mens !
(May God gives us grace to see the coming year,
And, if we are no longer living, that we are no less alive.)