Â The first week-end of September a festival takes place in Aix called the Blessing of the Calissons. This a a sweet, sort of a mixture of a cookie and a candy, that originated in Italy but found its way to France and, in fact, Aix in 1474 at the marriage of King Rene. The calisson is made of almonds, melons, sugar, syrup and flour. It started being offered to the people on September first to celebrate the end of the black plague in 1630. Calissons are said to prevent sickness and evil and even if they don’t, they are very tasty.
Here is a display in a window with the calissons arranged to make a flower. They always come in a container shaped as a calisson.
I attended the festival on a sunny September day in Aix where the ceremony started with traditional Provencal dances with the performers in costumes.
The children were included in the dancing
Two of the musicians
A sort of maypole dance I’ve never seen in France before
After the dancing there was a parade to the church including these two men dressed as chefs carrying an old statue of Mary and Jesus. Notice they are missing their arms and that there are calisson shapes on the base of the sculpture.
I think this man is dressed as good king Rene
Some more chefs taking a container of calissons to the church to be blessed. Afterwards, free samples were handed out. I’m a big fan of almond flavor and loved the chewy candy.