Joyeuses Pâques! A little late, I know – but as I hope most people were, I was somewhat busy with general Easter merriment over the weekend, and blogging just had to wait. Sorry!
Anyway, I hope it isn’t too late for you to be interested in reading about French Easter tradition, because that is what I have taken to my keyboard to tell you about today. And if it is too late – well you’re here now and it’s only a short one, you might as well stay. Go on. You know you want to.
So, much like en Angleterre, children in France are brought chocolate for Easter morning, and the chocolate is typically in egg form, and hidden, to allow a hunt to ensue. So far, much the same.
HOWEVER. Whilst British children’s eggs are brought by the Easter Bunny, French kids go to sleep on Easter Saturday hoping that they will wake up to a chocolatey surprise left by… the Easter bells. Yep, bells – the church variety.
Sounds a little funny at first if you’re not familiar with the tradition, but the accompanying tale has much more to do with the religious heart of Easter than our anthropomorphised rabbit with a basket.
The story plays on the Catholic tradition of church bells remaining silent between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We grown-ups know that this silence is maintained to mark Jesus Christ’s death – but the explanation given to the children is that all the bells have flown to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. Then, on Saturday night, they fly all the way back home, dropping sweet treats as they go, to be found on Sunday morning.
I think it’s lovely, personally.
Accordingly, apart from eggs, Easter chocolates can also be found in France in the shape of bells. You know the famous Lindt bunny? Of course you do. Well, here, you can buy a Lindt bell, wrapped up in gold foil and tied with the trademark red ribbon and, of course, another, smaller bell. There are also plenty of chocolate bunnies, and sheep, and various other ‘Spring shapes’ about.
My personal favourite, though, without a shadow of a doubt, has most definitely got to be the chocolate fish.
Oh yes. You read that right.
I said “fish”.
You can buy a whole shoal of hollow little chocolate fish tied up in a cellophane bag; a single, large, heavy-looking chocolate fish in his own box, like an Easter egg; or even a sardine tin – complete with ring pull – full of long, thin, solid chocolate fish.
The first time I unsuspectingly walked into a supermarket and saw them there, stacked in boxes and lining the shelves in their nicely-presented bags, I actually laughed out loud. Probably the next few times too. I haven’t gotten used to it yet; to my English mind with my English traditions, the concept is bloody hilarious.
When you stop to think about it a moment, it makes perfect sense of course. The fish is a very significant symbol in Christianity: the symbol of Jesus Christ. What, then, could be more appropriate?
All very sensible, really. But things tend to be a lot less funny when you get all sensible about them. Me, I’m just going to keep laughing about this one.