All through Provence in southern France you will find handcrafted santons offered for sale as art pieces and souvenirs. The word, ‘santon’ means ‘little saints’.
Originally, santons were figurines associated with the nativity scenes in a Provencal creche. Over time, the santons came to be associated with various characters typically found in most Provencal villages – the fishwife, the scissors grinder, the chestnut seller. the simpleton, the spinner, the basketmaker.
Many of these characters are featured in the Musee des Santons that we visited in the village of Les Baux de Provence. Our favorite characters were Grasso and Grassette (pictured here). G & G are an elderly couple who symbolize love and fidelity in spite of their old age and their daily squabbles.
Having been introduced to the concept of Grasso and Grassette, we saw them everywhere in real life on the streets. Chances are good, you’ll recognize the archetype in your part of the world, too – maybe even in your own family or circle of friends.