Easter Traditions in France and England: A Cultural Journey through History and Celebrations
Easter Traditions in France and England: A Cultural Journey through History and Celebrations

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Bunnies and bells: A Cultural Journey through History and Celebrations

Easter Traditions in France and England

Estimated reading time : 3 minutes

Easter, a significant Christian holiday, holds a special place in the hearts of people across the globe, including France and England. Rooted in ancient traditions and intertwined with religious significance, many also enjoy the extra day off work on Good Friday or Monday!

In this exploration, we delve into the rich history of Easter in France and England, tracing its origins, traditions, and modern-day celebrations. From centuries-old rituals to contemporary festivities, join us on a journey through time and culture as we uncover the essence of Easter in these two captivating countries.

Easter in France

The history of Easter in France is deeply intertwined with its Christian heritage, dating back to the early days of Christianity's spread throughout the region.

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion on Good Friday. Indeed, the French word for Easter - Pâques - means 'passage', refering to Jesus' journey through death to resurrection. Easter Sunday marks the end of the fasting period of Lent.

In medieval times, Easter was celebrated with great pomp and splendor, marked by elaborate church services, processions, and feasts. The French embraced the religious significance of Easter, incorporating various existing customs and traditions from the pagan spring festival into their observance of the holiday.

The Church Bells

One of the most iconic Easter traditions in France is the ringing of church bells. According to folklore, church bells remain silent from Thursday until Easter Sunday, symbolizing mourning for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday morning, the bells ring out joyously, announcing the resurrection of Christ and the arrival of Easter.

Children eagerly anticipate the return of the bells, as it signals the beginning of the traditional Easter egg hunt! In France, these chocolates are brought by the magical church bells which, after having been silenced to mourn the death of Christ on Good Friday, fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. On their way back to France, they collect the eggs and distribute them in French gardens. These generous bells then ring on Easter Sunday to announce the Resurrection of Christ.

The Eggs

The Easter egg holds symbolic importance in French culture, representing new life and rebirth. The Romans, Persians and Egyptians offered decorated eggs to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Traditionally, eggs are dyed vibrant colors and adorned with intricate designs, showcasing the creativity and artistry of the French people. 

Recently, the rabbit, or Easter Bunny has become increasingly popular in France. It holds pagan significance for the long-awaited fertility of the coming spring.

What to eat at Easter in France

As well as the choloate spoils from the egg hunt, families gather for festive meals around traditional dishes of lamb, the symbol of sacrifice and redemption in Christian theology. 

If you would like to try your hand at traditional dishes, there are lots of delicious Easter recipes to try!

Find out more about French Easter traditions in the France24 video below

Easter in England

In England, Easter holds a special place in the hearts of the British people, celebrated with a unique blend of religious observance and cultural traditions. The history of Easter in England dates back to the arrival of Christianity in the region, with early Christians adopting and adapting existing pagan customs to create their own Easter traditions.

One of the most enduring Easter traditions in England is the decorating of Easter eggs. Similar to their French counterparts, the English embrace the symbolism of the egg as a representation of new life and rebirth.  It was prohibited to eat eggs during the Holy Week in the medieval era, so rather than waste them, Christians would decorate and eat them on Easter to celebrate the end of the Lenten fast.

Nowadays, children participate in egg decorating contests, and the the time-honored tradition of egg rolling, where hard-boiled eggs are rolled down hills in a competition.  There are plenty of other Easter games you can play in a family!

The Easter Bunny

The Easter bunny, a beloved symbol of Easter in many Western cultures, also plays a prominent role in English Easter celebrations. Children eagerly await the arrival of the Easter bunny, who is said to deliver baskets filled with chocolate eggs, candies, and toys. Families gather for Easter egg hunts in gardens and parks, searching for hidden treasures amidst the blooming flowers and verdant foliage.

What to eat at Easter in the UK

As well as the traditional Easter meal of roast leg of lamb, Easter biscuits and hot cross buns are traditionally enjoyed throughout the UK. You can watch a video on how to make hot cross buns below, and find an excellent recipe for Easter biscuit recipe on the bbc site.

Try making traditional English hot cross buns yourself!

Holy Week

Religious celebration is an integral part of Easter in England, with churches holding special services and processions to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many communities come together for Passion Plays, which re-enact the events of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. Choirs sing hymns of praise and the faithful join in prayer and reflection to reaffirm their faith and devotion.

Modern-Day Celebrations

Artisanal products play an increasingly important role in Easter celebrations, with a growing demand for handmade goods that reflect the unique charm and craftsmanship of each region. In France, artisan chocolatiers craft exquisite chocolates and confections, infusing traditional recipes with innovative flavors and designs. From delicate chocolate eggs to indulgent pralines and truffles, artisanal chocolates add a touch of luxury to Easter festivities.

In England, artisans create a wide range of handmade products inspired by Easter traditions, including intricately decorated eggs, hand-painted ceramics, and whimsical decorations. Craft markets and artisan fairs showcase the talents of local artisans, offering a diverse selection of handmade goods for Easter shoppers.

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