Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter (Pâques) in France

View from our French house of the village church,* with its bells temporarily silenced 
Like all church bells in France, the bell in the ancient church which is overlooked by notre maison française, (My French Folly), was silenced on Thursday, in acknowledgement of Christ’s death. The bell’s stillness casts an eerie silence over the village.
The regular chiming of the church bell in French villages provides a comforting daily rhythm. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, the bells will ring once more, declaring that “Christ has risen”. A quaint tale is told to children to explain the silencing of the bells during the Easter period: the bell’s chimes have flown to Rome to visit the Pope and will return on Easter Sunday”
In France, the significance of the bells in the rituals of Pâques has resulted in the giving of chocolate bells, cloche volant, as well as the traditional Easter eggs, les oeufs de Pâques, (which are usually hidden for children to find), and chocolate fish, Poisson D'Avril
Fish signify an “April fool” consequently the chocolate fish first appear on April Fool’s day. For a number of centuries, children have attempted to pin a paper fish on the backs of adults on April the first. If they succeed they call out "Poisson d'Avril" (April fish) as they flee their target.
Easter is a time for reflection, good will and hope – even if one is not religious.
 * Photograph of  the church from our house - courtesy of Ian McKuster

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