The “cigale” is the main symbol of Provence; you will see them everywhere in the South of France, either in the flesh (or should I say in their insect skin) or as décor on just about anything (dishes, home linens, wall décor, soaps, clothes, etc.).Click here to learn the meaning of the cicada
La Petite Histoire
Il ne fait pas bon de travailler quand la cigale chante (It’s not good to work when the cicada is singing)
This Provençal expression speaks of the relaxing and melodic sounds of the cicadas. According to Provençal folklore, the cicada was sent by God to rouse peasants from their afternoon sieste on hot summer days and prevent them from becoming too lazy.The plan backfired: Instead of being disturbed by the cicadas, the peasants found the sound of their buzzing relaxing, which in turn lulled them to sleep!
While some may think of them as loud and a nuisance, the musical French cigales are welcomed by all…. In fact, for the French (and the many Europeans vacationing in the South of France for the summer), the cigale is the symbol of vacation/relaxation…. When you finally arrive in the South of France after hours of driving, the first sound that you hear when you open your door is the sound of the cicadas…. the sound says “finally, let the vacation begin!”
La Cigale et la Fourmi (The Cicada and the Ant)
Jean de la Fontaine, a famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century (and still to this day read in all of the French elementary schools) drew inspiration from oral traditions and the fables of Aesop and other poets of Greek and Roman antiquity when he wrote in 1668 the fantastic fable“La Cigale et la Fourmi”(you might know the English version of the story as The Grasshopper and the Ant).In the story, the cicada passes the glorious days of summer consumed in song, while the industrious ant forages and stores food for the winter to come. Guess who’s hungry come winter? And the ant won’t have any of it, of course!
Mes Précieuses Cigales (My “Precious” Cicadas)
For more than a decade, a husband and wife team of potters in a tiny village in the South of France have been entrusting me with their magical cigales. The making of one of their cigales is a very intensive process as they will handle the piece a dozen times from start to finish. Each piece is signed on the back (although sometimes the signature is glazed over during the baking process). These are not the cheap Chinese factory-made cicadas sold in many tourist boutiques in the South of France! The cicadas I bring to you are handmade by talented artisans and are far superior in quality and uniqueness; no two are alike. En avoir pour son argent (you get what you pay for)!
I offer several sizes of cicadas that can be used either indoors or outdoors. While some people will be content with just one of these fun bugs, some are inspired to create “collages” of cicadas, mixing and matching them by size, colors, design, etc. It is up to you whether to leave them “be” (i.e. standalone and empty) or use them as “wall pockets” by filling them with sprigs of dried lavender or other flowers, even potting them with small succulents or cacti.
Remember, the cigale is the symbol of luck, so the more you have at home, the luckier you will be! They are also a wonderful gift for any occasion and a definite conversation-starter.