My Page About Easter In France
Bonjour! Je m'appelle Delphine et je suis française.
J'ai dix ans. Je vous invite à lire ma page des traditions de Pâques en France.
Allons en France!
La Fête de Pâques en France
The French word for Easter is Pâques. To say Happy Easter you can say Joyeuses Pâques or Bonnes Pâques.
If a baby is born around Easter-time, then the name chosen for the baby might be Pascal, meaning 'belonging to Easter'.
My little sister was born on Easter Day and that is why she is called Pascale!
In preparation for the period of Easter, a special day is Mardi Gras. It actually means 'fat Tuesday' and it is what is known as Shrove Tuesday in English.
Why is it called 'fat Tuesday'? Well - probably because it is the last day when you can eat everything you like before the fasting period of Lent.
In French, Lent is called Le Carême.
On Mardi Gras, French people traditionally eat doughnuts called les beignets or pancakes called les crêpes. They also like to eat les gaufres (waffles).
(Above - les beignets sprinkled with sugar. You can eat them made with vegetables rather than sweet, if you prefer.)
Les gaufres, les beignets and les crêpes are the traditional food of Mardi Gras because they are a good way to use up all the extra flour, eggs and butter that should not be used during the fasting period of Le Carême.
In my family, we eat as many beignets as we can! They are really yummy! Miam-miam!
In the city of Nice, in southern France, there is a very famous Mardi Gras carnival every year:
Le Carnaval de Nice. In fact, it is the oldest Mardi Gras carnival of the whole world!
During the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, there are street parties, parades, shows, concerts, fireworks and general merry-making! People wear fancy-dress. The event attracts over one million visitors.
Each year, the Nice Mardi Gras carnival has a theme. This year (2015) the theme is Le Roi de la Musique -
The King of Music.
The day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday.
In French, Ash Wednesday is called Le Mercredi Des Cendres. It is the first day of Lent (Le Carême).
Le Carême is another way of saying 'forty days'.
During Le Carême people prepare for Holy Week and they think about the events leading up to the death of Jésus.
Now, I will tell you about the week running up to
Easter Sunday. It is Holy Week: La Semaine Sainte.
The first day of La Semaine Sainte is Palm Sunday: in French it is called Le Dimanche Des Rameaux.
The word 'rameaux' means 'branches'.
This is the day when we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the people greeted Him by laying palm leaves on the ground for Him to walk on.
On this day we carry decorated branches (rameaux) to church so that the priest will bless them. The branches can be made from palm leaves, olive trees, laurel, rosemary.
It all depends upon the plants that are easy to find in the area where you live.
In my family, Maman cuts little branches from the laurel bushes in our garden and we carry those to church.
There are some very artistic people who make wonderful braids and shapes with palm leaves. They place their fantastic creations on stands outside the churches so that you can buy one if you don't have your own branch.
Palm Sunday is also known as Pâques Fleuries, meaning 'Easter in blossom', because of all the lovely
plants and leaves.
During Holy Week, La Semaine Sainte, there are lots of processions and parades in the towns.
In French, we call an Easter procession un défilé pascal. We have the processions in order to remember the death of Jesus and the events leading up to His death.
'Les cloches volantes!' The flying bells!
Then, on the evening of Holy Thursday (Le Jeudi Saint) something very strange and special happens! All the church bells in France fly away to Rome! C'est bizarre!
Question: How do the bells do this?
Réponse: The grown-ups in my family tell me that wings suddenly appear on the bells.
Question: Why do the bells do this?
Réponse: The grown-ups say that the bells fly to Rome to visit the Pope (Le Pape). During their visit, they are blessed by the Pope and collect chocolate goodies to give to French children.
This means that all the church bells in France remain silent! No bells are heard because they have all flown away to Rome.
Then the bells fly back to France early in the morning of Easter Day! This happy day is Le Jour De Pâques. As the Easter bells (les cloches de Pâques) fly back, they drop chocolate eggs, bells and bunnies into the gardens of the French towns.
When the children wake up, they have great fun collecting the scattered goodies! And all the bells ring again because they have returned from Rome and are celebrating The Resurrection of Jesus! (La Résurrection.)
In some parts of France, children look for little chariots filled with eggs. The chariots are pulled by white horses.
Another tradition, on the Saturday evening, is for children to prepare nests in their gardens and houses. These nests (les nids) are for the Easter bunny who will arrive during the night, bringing chocolate eggs. My little sister leaves out carrots for the bunny in case he is hungry. He is called le lapin de Pâques or le lièvre de Pâques.
When we wake up on Easter Sunday, all the children are very excited because it is time to search for the chocolate eggs left in the nests by the Easter bunny! This egg hunt is called La chasse aux œufs.
There is a traditional game on Easter Sunday. Children throw raw eggs up in the air and catch them. They keep doing this until someone drops one. That person will be the loser! So far, I have never been the loser.
There is something else that is very important in France at Easter. It just so happens that April Fools Day, on 1st. April, occurs around the time of Easter. In France, the tradition is that children play a trick on as many adults as possible by sticking paper fish onto their backs and running away. We have a great day and every time that we manage to trick a grown-up, we run away shouting out
'Poisson d'avril!' - meaning 'April fish!' And we are usually laughing lots too. C'est fantastique!
So, in France, April fish are also an Easter symbol and that is why you will find chocolate fish in the shops too!
The shops where you buy the chocolate goodies are called les confiseries. You can also buy them in shops specialising in chocolate. These special chocolate shops are called les chocolateries. My favourite type of shop is 'la chocolaterie.' J'adore le chocolat.
The only other thing that I'd like to mention is Easter food in France.
Apart from all the chocolate, what do we eat?
Well, on Good Friday (Le Vendredi Saint) in my family we do not eat meat. We only eat fish, vegetables, fruit and bread - in fact anything, as long as it is meat-free. All my friends do the same thing too.
On Easter Day, (Le Jour De Pâques), traditionally we eat roast lamb: l'agneau.
There are also lots of vegetables: les légumes.
Roast pork (le porc) is also a popular meat at Easter for French families.
We have a cake called La Gâche de Pâques. It is a very rich bread mixture, like a brioche - containing bread flour, sugar, milk, yeast, butter and eggs.
(Photo of une brioche, by Rainer Zenz)
There is generally an enormous amount of delicious food to eat. We spend much of the day preparing the food and then dining with the whole family altogether. It is a very special and happy day. Bon appétit!
On Easter Monday, (Le Lundi De Pâques), in my family it is the tradition to eat omelette.
In the town of Bessières, in the south of France, there is a festival on Easter Monday where a giant omelette is cooked. It is prepared with around ten thousand eggs in a frying pan that is four metres wide. This delicious festival is called
La Fête de l'Omelette Géante.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my page about Easter.
I have designed a Happy Easter sign for your door!
J'espère que ceci vous plaira!
I hope you like it!
Delphine's Happy Easter Sign
Joyeuses Pâques à tous!
Here is an Easter rhyme about hens laying eggs:
C'est la poule grise
Qui pond dans l'église.
C'est la poule noire
Qui pond dans le tiroir.
C'est la poule blanche
Qui pond sur la planche.
Here is an Easter joke about a hen laying eggs:
La poule dit trois nombres quand elle pond un oeuf.
Réponse: Sept. Un. Neuf.
(Sounds like 'C'est un oeuf!')
For a quiz about Easter, cliquez ICI.
To sing along to a happy song, cliquez ICI.
An interesting fact:-
Did you know that The Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus is actually kept in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris? In French, The Crown is known as La Sainte Couronne. The cathedral is called La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Below is a photo of the special container, known as a reliquary, that keeps The Holy Crown safe inside.
(Photo by PHGCOM)
In addition to La Couronne, the Cathedral of Notre Dame also keeps some pieces of wood and a nail belonging to The Holy Cross.
Our French Resources Page