If you think little fluffy bunnies delivering Easter eggs is a bit far-fetched, then how do you feel about flying bells dropping chocolate treats to the kids in France? And why not, children love fantasy and this one’s a pretty good tale.
My journey of discovery started when I read that church bells don’t ring over Easter, so I made it my mission to find out why.
In France, it is believed that in the 7th century the Pope decided to ban the ringing of church bells between Good Friday and Easter, in remembrance of the passing of Jesus. Then at dawn on Easter Sunday morning the bells start ringing again in celebration of the resurrection.
What I found was that in Catholic French legend, on Good Friday the church bells grow 2 little wings and fly over to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope. While in Rome the Cloches Volantes (flying bells) are filled with chocolate eggs and gifts.
Early in the morning of Easter Sunday the bells fly across France making their way back to their respective belfries, dropping their bounty into the gardens of the French towns.
On Easter morning someone will call out – Les cloches sont passées! meaning that the bells have visited. Then the children have great fun finding the scattered goodies.
Sadly, we could find no treats in our garden this morning, though I did hear Dave muttering something about the bells returning.
When I first told Dave that there would be no church bells over Easter he was overjoyed. Dave does not particularly like the sound of church bells. He still has traumatic flashbacks to the time we were in Malta, when the nearby church pealed its bells at random intervals throughout every night which meant that Dave was sleep deprived for the entire week. The rest of us slept through peacefully (with no complaints).
The translation of Easter in French is “Pâques” so one would greet another with Joyeuses Pâques – happy Easter.
If a baby is born around Easter-time, then the name chosen for the baby might be Pascal for a boy and Pascale for a girl, meaning ‘belonging to Easter’.
Good Friday is not a public holiday here, which we were not expecting. We made sure to do all our “panic shopping” on Thursday because we assumed the supermarkets would be closed over Easter. So we were really surprised to pass a group of kids on their way to school, and to find everything else was business as usual. It felt strange.
In the week leading up to Easter, I was interested to see that the supermarkets were not bulging with over-stocked shelves of garish Easter merchandise. No tacky bunting and slogans offering fantastic “Easter specials”, just one small section of an aisle dedicated to chocolate eggs, chickens, bells and even dinosaurs. The chocolatiers stores certainly displayed beautiful hand-made creations, but it just wasn’t a big marketing and merchandising fuss like we have back in Australia. And no hot cross buns!!! That was a bit disappointing.
Dave and I wish everyone a Joyeuses Pâques.