Étrennes means New Year’s gifts, and commemorates a time when fine French dolls were featured as gifts for January 1st. January gifts are exchanged in other countries, as well, including Greece. In South America, gifts are sometimes exchanged on January 6th, the day of The Three Kings. A large Etrennes poster with dolls and toys as its subjects hung on the wall of Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment in the NBC sitcom, “Friends.”
Why not start a New Year’s gift-giving tradition for doll collectors? Consider these gifts for doll lovers on your list.
1. French Bisque dolls or doll heads. Contrary to popular belief, not all French bisque dolls need to break the bank. Dolls by Verlingue, Lanternier, UNIS, and some SFBJ examples can be had for under $500, or even $100. Look for 8-inch composition, and papier mache dolls marked EDEN, SFBJ in regional costumes.
2. Or, go for broke. Bring home a gorgeous Jumeau Bebe or Bebe Louvre, an Etrennes special that originated from the famous Louvre Department store. French fashion dolls, especially with wardrobes, are always a hit and a fantastic find. Or, look for clothing and accessories for the French fashion doll in your life. Vive La Poupee!
3. French celluloid dolls: Peticolin and others created gorgeous dolls in regional outfits in all sizes, ranging from tiny dolls, around 3 inches, which could be worn as pins, to dolls over ten inches high. These are marked with an eagle, and Peticolin embossed on the back. They used to be carried by stores and businesses as diverse as Marshall Field’s and Kimport Dolls. Such a French doll was also part of the mail-order Doll of the Month club; she came with a French stamp and coin, as well.
4. Santons de Provence; long part of the French Noel tradition of The Crèche, Santons are distinctive for their country attire and unusual accessories including loaves of bread and French pottery. Tiny figures are modeled entirely out of terracotta clay, while larger figures, up to about 15 inches, have their own clothing. Along with the dolls, there are many tiny porcelain miniatures that are meant to be baked into New Year’s bread and cakes. These are delightful for the miniature enthusiasts and for those who love to use them for doll houses.
5. There are many fun vintage French dolls by Corolle and other companies for doll enthusiasts, and many come with their own wardrobes. Yet, your doll doesn’t have to be French. To celebrate Etrennes, create a doll wardrobe by selecting appropriate bits and pieces. Barbie, Ginny, Cissy, Jill, Mlle. Huret, German Parian, and China heads, even boys like Ken, G. I. Joe, Big Jim, and The Six Million Dollar Man would all enjoy a new outfit, or a carefully thought out accessory to add to their wardrobes. Maybe a new carrying case, trunk, or doll wardrobe would do the trick as well.
The sky is the limit for fun Étrennes gifts. Next time you visit your doll collector friends, do a quick visual search of their collections, the types of dolls they like, what accessories they need, and broaden their horizons with an Etrennes gift, and a short note explaining the holiday.
Remember your favorite tiara and timepiece as you step out on New Year’s Eve, and remember to line up your New Year’s Eve and Etrennes dolls to make the holiday even more festive. Happy, and Peaceful, 2018!!
Le matin des étrennes
Ah! Quel beau matin, que ce matin des étrennes!
Chacun, pendant la nuit, avait rêvé des siennes
Dans quel songe étrange où l’on voyait joujoux,
Bonbons habillés d’or, étincelants bijoux,
Tourbillonner, danser une danse sonore,
Puis fuir sous les rideaux, puis reparaître encore!
On s’éveillait matin, on se levait joyeux,
La lèvre affriandée, en se frottant les yeux…
On allait, les cheveux emmêlés sur la tête,
Les yeux tout rayonnants, comme aux grands jours de fête,
Et les petits pieds nus effleurant le plancher,
Aux portes des parents tout doucement toucher…
On entrait! …puis alors les souhaits … en chemise,
Les baisers répétés, et la gaieté permise!
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
The morning of the New Year
Ah! Good morning, this morning of the New Year!
Each, at night, had dreamed of his own
In what strange dream where we saw toys,
Dressed in gold, sparkling jewelry, candy
Whirl, dance a dance sound,
Then run under the curtains, then reappear again!
You woke up in morning, we got up happy,
The lip affriandée, rubbing the eyes…
We went, tangled on the head, hair
All radiant eyes, as in the great days of party,
And the small bare feet touching the floor,
At the gates of the parents gently touch…
You entered! .then so wishes, shirt,
Repeated kisses, and permitted merriment!
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
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