As the bank holiday draws nearer and daydreams of eating hot crossed buns and egg hunts enter young minds, Rosie Khdir takes a look at the Easter holiday traditions of other European countries.
Ok so here is the part when those of us who think Easter is all about scoffing chocolate eggs begin to blush. In France, being a Roman Catholic country, Pâques is a time of great celebration! The French celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus in a multitude of ways with a number of different holidays to mark the event.
This day, known to many here in Blighty as Pancake Day, is when the celebrations for Easter truly start. It is the last day before Lent begins so people indulge and party – their last hurrah before going 40 days without one of their favourite foods or drinks.
Carnivals erupt up and down the country; one in Nice last two weeks and includes fireworks, parades, masked balls and plenty of food (hence its name, which translates as “Fat Tuesday”).
Silencing of the Bells
This is a long standing tradition across France, and by long standing I mean since the 12th Century. Almost every village, town or city in the country has a church with a bell and it is customary to silence it on the Thursday before Good Friday; this is done in acknowledgement of Jesus’ death.
The old legend says that the bells of all France’s churches fly to Rome on this Holy Thursday, and because of their absence all the churches stay quiet until Easter Sunday.
Easter Day in France is very similar to festivities in the UK, with children participating in Easter egg hunts. They also have a very popular game, during which children will toss raw eggs in the air and attempt to catch them again; the last remaining child who keeps their egg intact wins!
Most families will also attend a Mass or church service at their local place of worship.
The main food people in the UK may associate Easter with is chocolate, and I feel that is very much the same across la manche. There is however one area where the traditions differ; you won’t see many Easter bunnies in France, instead they have fish and bells.
Bells representing the flying bells and the “Poisson d’Avril” or April Fish, are part of an April fool tradition, where children cut out paper fish and attempt to stick them to backs of adults!
Eggs, in a non-chocolate form are a popular dish, especially on the Easter Sunday. In some households it is tradition to begin with an omelette or quiche to start and then a roasted lamb as a main – the lamb is of course another important symbol of Easter.
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Image credit: lizjones112