The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.
Easter in France is not very different from most countries that celebrate it, the main focus being getting together with family and friends for big meals and chocolate indulgence. The French love their chocolate, 13,000 tonnes of it is sold every Easter! But not just any old chocolate, a high percentage is artisanal hand-made chocolate from boulangerie-pâtisseries rather than supermarket mass-produced low quality produce. Just walking around towns at this time of year is torture for a chocoholic like me who only has to look at a beautifully decorated shop window to put on weight! But looking at it a different way, it's heaven - all that delicious chocolate hand crafted into eggs, bells, fish and bunnies just waiting to be devoured!
Luckily for me and my helpless lack of self-control when it comes to temptation, one of the things I appreciate most about Easter in France compared with Britain is the relative lack of commercialisation. In general eggs don't appear in shops until about 2 weeks before Easter, sometimes a little earlier, but not much, and then the selection in supermarkets is good but not overwhelming. It's in the bakeries where the choice is phenomenal; from all shapes and sizes to all different types of chocolate, garnished or not, prettily decorated, plain (or just plain ugly)... The chocolate is there, but it's not around for so long, hence less temptation. And it's usually really expensive, another deterrent. You can read more about chocolate at Easter here.
I mentioned chocolate "eggs, bells, fish and bunnies" and you may well be wondering why bells and fish? In fact Easter rabbits are not traditional here and have only come in as a result of commercialisation and influence of multinational confectionary companies. Eggs are delivered by flying bells in France. Bizarre but true! (You do believe me don't you?)
The story goes back many centuries to a time when the Catholic authorities banned churches from ringing their bells from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Legend has it that the bells had flown to Rome to take away the grief of those mourning the death of Christ and would return on Sunday, having been blessed by the Pope. They would be full of chocolate eggs which they dropped from the sky on their way back to their churches. Even today church bells still don't ring between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
So that explains the bells, what about the fish? Chocolate fish are associated with the Poisson d'Avril tradition on the 1st of April when children stick paper fish on the backs of their friends, teachers and any unsuspecting person as a joke. As Easter changes date every year, it often falls around about the same time as the Poisson d'Avril hence chocolate fish in the shops. You can read more about April Fool's Day here in a previous post I wrote.
A typical Easter celebration in France revolves around an egg hunt on Sunday morning after Mass (for those that go to church). This takes place in the garden or a nearby park, weather permitting. (If you're visiting France at Easter it's worth noting that many Châteaux and other historic buildings put on fabulous hunts in their grounds for a small fee.) Then it's time for a big lunch of several courses, starting with an apéritif, followed by entrée, plat, salade, fromage et dessert. The plat - main course - is usually roast lamb. Different regions of France have their own specialities and variations, this is a generalised view. In my area in the south we also eat a lovely sweet brioche called Mouna that's only available at Easter. Easter Monday is a public holiday leaving everyone time to digest and travel back home.
I've lived in many countries and incorporate different traditions into our family Easter, ones which aren't common in France. Amongst other things my children always blow eggs and decorate them with paint, stickers and glitter. We also dye boiled eggs to eat at breakfast which as far as I know isn't done here. One thing I think is fairly standard no matter where you spend Easter, whether in France, England, Australia, Czech Republic (some of the best Easter traditions in my opinion, fond memories from years living in Prague) to name a few of the places I've called home, is that it's fun, kids love it and we all eat too much!
How do you spend Easter? Is it celebrated where you live? What are your favourite traditions? Wherever you are, I wish you a very joyeuses pâques.
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Yummmmm - those Easter treats look scrumptious. Lovely finding you through the Travel Tuesday linkup! xx
I love the idea that the eggs are delivered on flying bells, just brilliant! Also great that they want the quality chocolate over inferior mass produced, much nicer. It looks like a great time to be in France
I love this post. Reminds me so much of my time in France during Easter! I remember all those gorgeous chocolate easter eggs and easter bunnies in the shop windows. France is just a fantastic location for having a feast!!
So fascinating! I love learning how countries celebrate!! The chocolates look amazing!!
What an interesting tradition for Easter. I love the bell and fish stories. I'm a chocoholic so this would be chocolate heaven for me. They look so delicious! I live in the USA so we celebrate Easter with a mass, family and an egg hunt. Your eggs seems to be cuter than ours though.
From one chocoholic to another, happy Easter Mary!
Why is Easter plural in French?
Good question. JF doesn't know. I guess Google will!
I thought I knew a lot about France but I did not know about the bells dropping eggs. What fun. I have decorated eggs that my children made almost 40 years ago. They come out on the breakfast table every year. Happy Easter to you all
Amazing that you still have those vintage eggs! And that they haven't broken over the years. Wow!
I enjoyed learning about the bells and fish. It is refreshing commercialization is not what it is all about in France. Pretty pictures.
You're right, it is refreshing. Thanks for stopping by Bonnie
My gosh those eggs look absolutely beautiful! I would love to try one of them they look much better than our cheap Cadbury ones!
They are lovely, but soooo expensive. (Can't beat Cadbury's MiniEggs!!)
Looks like they go to a lot more effort with Easter in France than in the Netherlands! I was so surprised that Good Friday is not even a public holiday here (or in most of Europe).
Good Friday isn't a holiday in France, but they do still enjoy Easter. I'm surprised to hear the NL doesn't do much.
Even though there are Christians in Malaysia which is predominantly Muslim and Buddhist, I haven't been able to find any Easter traditions here. The grocery store that the expats frequent started displaying Cadbury candies a few weeks ago, but they are ridiculously expensive compared to what I'd pay in America for something similar. So, I went to the best chocolate shop in town in hopes of finding something fresh and beautiful since they had made candies for Halloween and Christmas. Alas, I guess Easter isn't commercialized enough here for them to offer anything at all. I didn't know about the French tradition of the bells and the fish. It's so interesting learning what other countries do. My family will be joining with some other expats to do an Egg Hunt and brunch on Saturday. I need to dye some eggs, too, but all I can find are brown ones. It seems that white eggs is an American thing.
Most French eggs are brown too, it's hard to dye them here. I hope you have a good time at your expat brunch. Sounds fun.
Lovely photos, and wonderful traditions. Easter really isn't celebrated here in Korea. There would be church services, but no holiday, candy or special meal. My favorite memory of Easter in Canada was coloring boiled eggs with my Dad on Easter eve. We always had a blast! Thanks for linking up to Travel Photo Thursday this week, and Happy Easter!
Sounds like a lovely memory Nancie. Thanks for commenting
I'm in the US and yes, I do celebrate Easter. As a Christian I celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but my family also enjoys a great egg hunt as well. Easter is also a great time to visit with extended family.
Sounds like you have a good Easter Tonya
Love those decorated boiled eggs. An easter egg hunt is always on the agenda in Australia for the kids. We have always gone water skiing and camping at Easter time with a big group of families. Between us there were a lot of children. Bags and Bags of tiny eggs would be hidden in the grass, behind logs, in the crooks of trees. Great Fun. Our kids are grown now, so there is still water skiing but no hunt!
Sounds like lots of fun Jan, I love the idea of camping and egg hunting.
Loving those decorated eggs at the end! I love that they have bells and fish from chocolate too !
I'm happy you've noticed my boys' silly eggs!!
Looks like fun and a wonderful celebration with children and those chocolates - yummy!
It is great fun for children, you're right.
I love learning about holiday traditions in other countries, so thanks for sharing. Chocolate eggs falling from the sky?! That would've been a sight to see! I'd definitely have a hard time not putting on weight if I were celebrating Easter in France. All of that good food + chocolate = chunky thighs for me. :-)
Have a very Happy Easter!
It is hard not to put on weight, but the trick is moderation!
Really nice to hear about the different trsditions
Glad you enjoyed it Emma.
I will have a very quiet Easter watching tv and eating eggs with my family
Sounds nice and relaxing
Aww what lively photos. Love the idea of an Easter egg hunt
Thanks for stopping by Michelle
My belt has two holes I made specially for Xmas AND Easter! Can't wait...
Happy pig out Ramon!
Weather permitting we are doing a Boot Fair on Easter Sunday so nothing traditional there at all! And I got caught out by the lack of eggs etc in the shops, wanting some to do some Easter publicity photos for the gite and nowhere had any for sale! I still much prefer this way to the commercialisation in the UK... and the chocolate is so much nicer of course
You'll have to keep some eggs from this year for next year's publicity Rosie - now that'll be a challenge!
Love all those pics. Makes me hungry though :-)