My crêche (nativity) is waiting for the wheat of Sainte Barbe. In Provence, the Christmas season begins with the first day of Advent but shortly thereafter, on 4 December, we have the celebration of Sainte Barbe Day. It is on this day that grains of wheat are planted. Their germination not only represents the trinity, but also a prosperous harvest for the following year. Christmas is about traditions and this is one that truly puts me in the spirit of the season.
Purchase your wheat berries from the bins at Whole Foods or buy wheat grass at a garden store. Farro (spelt) will also work.
Begin by choosing 3 saucers or other small containers. Cover the bottom of each with soft cotton. You can use a sheet of cotton or simply pull apart cotton balls.
Now, scatter grains of hard wheat over the cotton. Mist with water or drip water off the tips of your fingers. Cotton should be wet but not soaked. Mist or water lightly daily. The grains should germinate in a few days and soon you will have wheat grass. Sometimes I cheat and plant some saucers during Thanksgiving week so that I have the grass at the beginning of the season…but I always do more on Sainte Barbe day in order to have it through the end of the season. I use it in the nativity but also as part of centerpieces.
Et voila ! Xavier’s crêche with Sainte Barbe’s wheat