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The thirteen desserts (Occitan: lei tretze dessèrts) are the traditional dessert foods used in celebrating Christmas in the French region of Provence. The "big supper" (le gros souper) ends with a ritual 13 desserts, representing Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. The desserts always number thirteen but the exact items vary by local or familial tradition.[1] The food traditionally is set out Christmas Eve and remains on the table three days until December 27.[2]

Dried fruit and nuts[]

File:4 mendiants noix.jpg

Four beggars

The first four of these are known as the "four beggars" (les quatre mendiants), representing the four mendicant monastic orders: Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinian and Carmelites.[3]

  • Raisins (Dominicans)
  • Walnuts or hazelnuts[4] (Augustines)
  • Dried figs (Franciscans)
  • Almonds (Carmelites)
  • Dates, representing the foods of the region where Christ lived and died[5]
  • Dried plums from Brignoles

Fresh fruit[]


  • Biscotins (biscuits) from Aix;
  • Calissons d'Aix,[6] a marzipan-like candy made from almond paste and candied melon.
  • Candied citron
  • Casse-dents of Allauch (biscuit)
  • Cumin and fennel seed biscuits
  • Fried bugnes
  • Fruit tourtes[6]
  • Oreillettes, light thin waffles[2]
  • Pain d'epice
  • Pompes à l'huile or fougasse à l'huile d'olive, a sweet cake or brioche made with orange flower water and olive oil[5]
  • Quince cheese/quince paste (Pâte de coing)[6]
  • Yule log
  • Two kinds of nougat, symbolizing good and evil[1]
    • Black nougat with honey (Nougat noir au miel), a hard candy made with honey and almonds
    • White nougat (Nougat blanc), a soft candy made with sugar, eggs, pistachios, honey, and almonds

French wedding foodways[]

Bayle St. John, writing in The Purple Tints of Paris (vol. 2) "The dishes are substantial; soup, boiled beef, veal, salad, cheese, apples, and what are called, for some mysterious reason, the four beggars — nuts, figs, almonds, and raisins, mixed together."

See also[]

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  • List of desserts


External links[]