Every culture around the world has its own version of different holiday celebrations. Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day worldwide is composed of unique activities and traditions that differ from one another. The meaning and interpretation of the holidays vary from each other because of the locale and its people’s culture and value systems. Easter celebrations in France is no different. Here are some of the activities and traditions that the French take part in during the Easter season.
This French tradition combines the fish, an early Christian symbol for Christ, and the celebration of April Fools. These two are combined as Easter usually comes in several weeks after April Fool’s Day. French children play pranks on adults by making fish-shaped paper that they stick on the backs of as many unsuspecting adults as possible. If they are successful, the children shout out, “Poisson d’Avril” which means April fish, quite similar to American children’s shouting of “April Fools!”
Bells and Chocolate Treats
To mourn and honor the death of Christ on the cross, church bells are not rung during Maundy Thursday to Good Friday of the holy week in France. To explain the missing bells, parents tell their children that the bells flew away to visit the Pope in Rome and they come back on Easter mornings to deliver the Pope’s gifts of eggs and chocolates. On Easter morning, the church bells are rung once more, and the children search for the “flying bells” and the treats inside them.
Easter Sunday Dinner
Christian communities in France gather together after the Easter church service for the traditional family dinner. The menu for the dinners reflects their region’s seasonal delicacies. The most popular main dish for Easter Sunday dinner is the leg of lamb, or a rack of lamb served with white beans and gravy. Early spring vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, are also served. For dessert, the Easter brioche, pastry bread formed into a ring with an Easter egg at the center, is a popular choice.
Easter Egg Hunts in France is very similar to other parts of the world where organizers paint and decorate hard-boiled eggs for children to find. In some cases, they use candy eggs or chocolate eggs. The Chateaux Vaux le Vicomte organized annual Easter Egg Hunts with thousands of prepared eggs for participants to find.
Aside from the traditional Easter egg hunts, the French also have other unique games played during Easter. In the Easter Egg Roll, children have to make fresh eggs roll down a gentle slope. Those whose eggs remain unbroken will be declared the winner. There is also the Egg Toss where players take turns tossing a fresh egg to each other and catching the eggs without breaking them.
Giant Omelet for Easter Monday
An after-Easter tradition for the French is cooking omelets for the family meal on Monday after Easter. In the town of Bessieres, they take this tradition to a whole new level by cooking a 15,000-egg omelet. This is in commemoration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s order to create the first giant omelet to feed his troops. This tradition boosts the town’s tourism by drawing in over 40 cooks and 10,000 spectators and participants.