These are taken from the December 1932 edition of La Prospérité à la Campagne.
Le mois de l’Avent … est du pluie ou de vent.
In the month of Advent you’ll get either rain or wind.
En Vaucluse, les douze jours précédent Noël sont appelés ‘jours compteurs’ parce qu’ils désignent – dit-on – le temps qu’il fera, mois par mois, au cours de l’année suivante.
In Vaucluse, the twelve days before Christmas are called ‘gauge days’ because they decree, it’s said, what the weather will be like month by month the following year.
A Noël les limaces – à Pâques, les glaces.
Slugs at Christmas – ice at Easter.
So what Christmas presents could you have bought back then (incidentally the month my mum was born). First up some rather nice nickel plated sugar tongs for 25 francs (15 euro at today’s prices i.e. equivalent purchasing power). Three copper egg-shaped salt and pepper pots (two for salt) would set you back 55 francs (33 euros), and 12 silver coffee spoons (18g silver plating) 72 francs (44 euro).
A 2-litre electric kettle was a pricey 125 francs (76 euros), but only 5 francs (3 euros) more expensive than a nickle plated foot warmer. 230 francs (140 euros) would get you a polished copper portable radiator, a touch more expensive than a paraffin lantern for the kitchen.
For 275 francs (167 euros) you could either get a phonograph, that came with a 5-year guarantee and 12 records, either music or song, 25cm in diameter or you could treat yourself to a Mab pistolet and a Flobert air-gun for a good shooting session !
The most expensive item for sale in the magazine was an electric Loewe Radio for 1250 francs (760 euros), made from walnut and ebony.
The magazine isn’t at all Christmassy. Not the merest festive decoration. Its sister magazine, the twice-monthly Jardins et Basses-Ceurs, is the same. There are a few pages of adverts, a quick editorial and a list of what’s gone on in the last fortnight and then it’s down to business with an illustrated article about compost. Pruning fruit bushes, washing ornamental plants, building pigeonniers and making marrons glacés are lovingly detailed, amongst other things.
These old magazines are marvellous, and we have a colossal supply of them. So perhaps I’ll share some more treasures from bygone years with you again soon.
The photo of the slug comes from www.publicdomainpictures.net