On the Thursday evening before Easter Day, the church bells in France fall silent. Adults tell the children that the bells have flown off to Rome to visit to the Pope and to collect the Easter eggs. The bells remain silent (absent) on Friday and Saturday, and then on Easter Sunday they return to the churches, droppings the eggs off along the way, and ring out over the country. They are known as “Les Cloches Volants” or the flying bells.
One game that is played on this day is to throw and catch a raw egg. If you drop and break your egg you are out, and the winner is the last person left with their egg still intact.
As Poisson d’avril is so close to Easter, chocolate fish as well as chocolate eggs are included in the sweet treats at his time.
Related posts: Easter in England , Christmas in France , Easter in Germany , Easter in Switzerland
Different regions of Switzerland have different traditions, for example in one region in the south of Switzerland they perform a passion play on the Thursday before Easter Day. In another region, in the west of the country there is a “weeping women parade” where the women carry red cushions with nails and a crown of thorns.
It is the cuckoo who brings the Easter eggs in Switzerland, and so in the run up to the festival, the shops have displays of baskets of eggs and cuckoos.
Easter Day itself begins with an Easter egg hunt for children, with a prize for the person who finds the most eggs.
Easter Monday brings another game: the adults have to try to break the children’s decorated eggs with a 20 cent coin. If they succeed, they get to keep the egg and the money, but if they lose the child gets the 20 cents.
Related posts: Easter in England, Easter in Germany, Easter in France
As with many things in Germany, different regions have different traditions for Easter. In some regions it’s the Easter fox who delivers the chocolate eggs; in others it’s the Easter rooster or the Easter stork. However the Österhase (the Easter hare or Easter bunny) is slowly taking over all of the regions.
In the north of the country, fires are lit to celebrate the end of the cold winter months and to welcome spring. They are lit on the Saturday night and kept burning until the Sunday morning. This stems from a Pagan tradition which was believed to keep away sickness.
Another Germany Easter tradition is the Easter egg tree. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a tree with decorated eggs hanging from it. Sometimes, rather than decorating a whole tree, a twig in a vase is used.
A typical Easter meal would be a lamb dish, followed by a cream-filled cake in the shape of lamb.
Related posts: Easter in England, Easter in France, Easter in Switzerland
There are two sides to Easter: the religious side, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ, and the playful side with bunnies and eggs. This post is going to look at the traditions and customs associated with Easter, rather than the religious story.
The main tradition associated with Easter is the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs, and in England it’s the Easter Bunny that delivers them, and children often have Easter egg hunts to find where the Easter Bunny left them. Why a bunny? Well the most likely reason is because Easter is celebrated in springtime, a time of new life, and rabbits are noted for having lots of big litters which is a pretty good representation of new life! There are also sketchy stories of a goddess called Eostre who had a hare as a companion, but there doesn’t seem to be much information about this.
In schools children have an Easter bonnet parade. The children, or more often their parents, decorate a hat and the children will parade around the school hall and visit the classrooms of the older children to show off their hats. There is usually a small prize for the best hat.
There are often other competitions such as egg-decorating competitions, and egg-rolling. Children go to the top of a slope in the school grounds, and roll a (hard-boiled) egg down the slope. There’s usually a prize for the child whose egg rolls the furthest.
Related posts: Easter in France, Easter in Germany, Easter in Switzerland