April 21, 2019
This is one of the most recurring questions I receive: Are holidays celebrated any differently in France?
Easter is a holiday with so many traditions and food attached to it. What would Easter be without enjoying a chocolate Easter bunny - and yet, the Easter bunny does not exist in France!! But do not worry, Easter is still a fun holiday in France - and yes, there is chocolate involved.
Starting in the 7th century, the Catholic church would forbid the bells to ring from Saint Thursday until Easter Sunday. The story goes that these bells - now being reduced to silence - would take advantage of these free days to go to Rome and get blessed by the Pope.
Over there, they would get filled with chocolate and come back ringing relentlessly to announce the joy of Jesus' resurrection, and drop eggs in everyone's yards. Usually one parent usually shouts, "The bells have come", meaning the chocolate-eggs have been dropped and kids then run around trying to find them.
Not only do you decorate eggs in France, you particularly eat them! The bells, back from Rome, drop all egg-shaped chocolate into one's yards for everyone's enjoyment! Eggs have always been a symbol of fertility and resurrection.
The chocolate-egg tradition dates back to the beginning of Christianity where during the 40 days prior to Easter, eggs would not be eaten. Not sure what to do with all these extra eggs, started in the 18th century chocolatiers decided to empty the eggs and fill them with chocolate to enjoy during Easter. As the techniques evolved and became most complex, egg-shaped chocolate mold were created and are now used today.
Easter Sunday is usually celebrated with a family meal or sometimes an outdoor picnic, but for everyone Easter Monday is even better. Because of France's important Christian history, all businesses and schools are closed! Since it always falls in the Spring, even people that don't observe the holiday are very happy about a 3-day weekend.