9V6RJ3rpFgRWRKz9atzwHWSEAzE Useful Articles Hard To Ignore: How Easter (Pâques) Is Celebrated In France

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How Easter (Pâques) Is Celebrated In France

In countries where the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, no other celebration is perhaps more important than Easter. In France, for instance, where about ninety percent of the people are Roman Catholics, Easter is celebrated with great joy to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

The celebration of Easter, or Pâques, in France actually begins on the Thursday prior to Good Friday (called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday). On this day, no peals of church bells are heard in observance of Christ's death. On Easter morning, church bells come to life once more to celebrate the Resurrection. Every city, town and village in France has a church, so the ringing of bells on Easter morning can be heard almost everywhere. The joyful significance of Pâques is especially evident when people kiss each other the moment they hear the ringing of church bells.

The morning of Pâques finds children waking up in glee, anticipating to find as much of "les oeufs de Pâques" (Easter eggs) as they can, which were hidden in playgrounds, gardens, or right inside homes a day or two before this day. Children are told by their parents of the connection between the church bells that are silent on Maundy Thursday, their ringing again on Easter morning, and the sudden appearance of Easter eggs.

The story, as children are made to believe, goes this way: On Maundy Thursday, the chimes of church bells fly to Rome to pay visit to the Pope. They return on Easter morning joyfully ringing to signify their happiness for having seen the Pope. In their desire to share their joy to people, especially to children, they brought with them many beautifully colored eggs as gifts. Some children can get luckier than others - they uncover small chariots, pulled by little white horses, filled with multicolored eggs.

Traditional games played by French kids during Easter involve the use of raw eggs. In one game, children roll their eggs down a slope. The one whose egg survives the roll, or does not break or crack, is the winner. This particular game symbolizes the rolling away of the stone from the tomb of Jesus.

Although most shops are closed in France during holidays, confiseries, or candy shops, are open on Easter to provide delight to people who, regardless of age, feel so much joy just seeing candies and chocolates of all sizes, shapes, and designs. French chocolatiers take pride in their work that they put in so much time and effort to come up with delightful goodies. The results are items that appear more like works of art rather than foods. Everyone in France is sure to enjoy this aspect of Pâques because there is not one village there without a confiserie.

The Easter holidays in France actually fall within the fourth of five sets of school holidays, which is called the printemps, or spring, break. During this period, schools are closed for fifteen days, beginning on Maundy Thursday. Hence, Pâques is an opportunity for French families to be together, whether just at home or on short trips.

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