Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas and the French Revolution

During the French Revolution, there was a concerted effort by revolutionists to reorganize the Roman Catholic church which was the official religion of the French State. Devout practitioners turned against those revolutionaries who wanted changed and vice versa. But that didn't stop revolutionaries from going forward. Religious orders, churches, abbeys, were closed down, and religious worship was suppressed--being associated with bourgeoisie and royal blood, and a threat to the revolution.

(If you want to read more about the French Revolution and the church, I suggest reading this article!)

Because of the suppression of religion, Christmas during the French Revolution was a bit different. Midnight mass and street nativity scenes were prohibited, so people began making santons "little saints" within their homes--tiny figurines made of clay that represented bakers, vegetable sellers, local dignitaries, bakers, people from daily life, perhaps a baby and his parents...AND they added saints, a way to quietly, and secretly maintain their religious beliefs. Of course, if they were caught it would have been "off with your head!"

The calendar was rewritten during the French Revolution, months given equal days of 30 with holiday at the end of the year, and every month given a new name, such as "the rainy month," and days were give names of animals and plants. Thus December 25th was renamed Dog Day. 

Bakers were taken to task for making Christmas mince pies, and Galette de rois (in honor of the three kings). How day they make "idolatry in crusts" and pies that bear the name KING! The were advised to rename their pastries Liberty cakes.

Thankfully, this only lasted a few years...