Easter bells and bunnies
In my childhood I celebrated Easter in the same way that that my grandparents did in their childhood: after coming back from Easter Mass, we went to look for eggs that the Easter bells had left for us in their garden in the Provençal city of Grasse. In my grandparents’ time, they were painted chicken eggs, but these days, the eggs are usually made ??of chocolate.
Then we ate a good lunch with the traditional roast lamb, vegetables and garlic from the garden. When I complained about the effect of garlic on my breath, my grandpa always reminded me of how good it was for my blood circulation.
Here is the origin of the tradition of Easter bells, as my grandma explained it to me:
Church bells do not ring from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday, they remain silent during the death of Christ as a sign of mourning. According to legend, the bells go to Rome on Holy Thursday evening, where the Pope blesses them and they are loaded with eggs. Then they make their way back: they wear a pair of wings and ribbons, or they are carried on a chariot. On Easter morning, they ring to announce the joy of the resurrection of Christ, while scatterring the eggs in gardens.
“But why eggs?” I asked. Church law dictated that Christians must abstain from eating meat or eggs during Lent. But hens continued to lay eggs during that period, so there were lots of surplus eggs at Easter. Legend had it that if on Easter day the first thing you ate was an egg that had been laid on Good Friday, you would be protected from illness until the following Easter. I have tried, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me.
Like many other traditions in France, there are regional variations: Alsace and Lorraine are close to Germany, and even formed part of the country historically, so their belief, like all protestant countries, is that the Easter Bunny (or Hare) brings the eggs. In fact, the Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs was first recorded by Georg Franck von Frankenauin in the 18th century, as he wrote about the Alsace tradition.
The chocolatiers in France make eggs that are not only delicious, but also works of art. Their window displays are very elaborate and a feast for the eyes. Their creations often look too beautiful to be eaten!
Now that we are in Australia, our children go hunting for Easter eggs in our garden. They are not particularly concerned about who brings them, nor about the difference in seasons. Many of the symbols of Easter are about spring, the season of renewal. But it is celebrated in the same way in the southern hemisphere even though it is in autumn, much like Christmas when you see Santa Claus in his red coat sweating in the summer heat. Wherever you are, it is a beautiful celebration and an opportunity to spend a happy time with your family.
Here are our own Easter bunnies, the photo is from our other blog Paw Steps to Happiness.
I love the story of the flying bells, in my part of France they say that the bells take with them all the grief and misery of those mourning the crucifixion of Jesus. They also have a tradition of rolling the eggs down a slope – the winner is the one who’s egg gets to the bottom first but apparently this is symbolic of the stone being rolled away from the tomb of Jesus. I love the fact that its not just about how much chocolate you give or receive and you’ve captured it beautifully – the dogs are gorgeous!
I didn’t know the tradition regarding Easter bells. Thanks for sharing.