A newcomer has joined the traditional figures of the Provençal nativity scene (the crèche) that families, churches and municipalities set up in the weeks before Christmas.
The newcomer wears a white lab coat and ponders complex equations on a blackboard — he's a scientist working for ITER, as evidenced by the badge hanging from his neck.
For the moment, the clay figure (santon) of the ITER scientist is only visible in the lobby of ITER Headquarters. Just like in the tree-lighting ceremony that was held on 9 December, he is standing next to the village mayor. (The mayor of Saint-Paul-Lez-Durance gifts a large Christmas tree every year to the ITER Organization.)
But as ITER roots dig deeper and deeper into the soil of Provence, the clay figure of the ITER scientist will become as familiar — and as legitimate — as the fisherman, the miller, the scissor grinder and all the figures that reflect daily life in the towns and villages of Provence.