Joyeuses Pâques ! That’s what you’ll hear for the entire Easter weekend in France as the holiday celebrations commence. Easter in France is a festive time filled with fun for kids and symbolism of the religious significance of the holiday.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate Easter in France, and it varies across different regions. Check out some of these famous French Easter traditions!
Celebrating Easter in France
Easter in France is one of the most exciting holidays. The holiday extends from Good Friday to Easter Monday, giving families lots of time to spend together enjoying the common traditions.
Easter is a public holiday, but only select regions such as Alsace take off work on Good Friday. Everyone else can find time to relax and recuperate after the festivities with an off-day on Easter Monday.
France is predominantly a Catholic country, so Easter is a time for families to fellowship together and honor the stories and traditions of Jesus Christ and the resurrection.
French Easter Meal Traditions
A proper Easter dinner is a must, with lamb being the main dish on the menu for its symbolism of Spring.
Another typical dish typically served during the holiday is fish (correlated with April Fish occurring after Easter). Many people in France follow a tradition of fasting during lent and opt to eat fish instead of meat.
The French city of Besseries has its own Easter meal traditions. A historical tale of Napoleon shares that he enjoyed an omelet so delicious that he awoke on Easter and ordered a giant omelet to be made for the entire town.
Well, myth or truth, the tradition stuck, and now more than 10,000 people gather in the town during Easter to enjoy one of the largest omelets you’ve ever seen!
What fun is a holiday if we don’t do a little something extra for the kids? The French have no issue with it and use Easter as a chance to tell the story of the ‘Flying Bells.’
Many churches across France still ring their church bells daily. In honor and remember since of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, all church bells are silenced on Good Friday. Kids who are accustomed to the ringing bells need to be told something to explain the sudden silence, but the actual meaning might be too much at their age.
The story or the ‘Flying Bells’ is a tale that all of the church bells sprout wings and fly off to Rome, where they are received and blessed by the Pope. The Pope also gives the bells special treats such as Easter eggs and chocolate.
Upon returning on the morning of Easter, the bells drop the eggs and chocolate in the kids’ backyards to enjoy on Easter before returning to their respective churches.
And remaining consistent with the story, the air is filled with chiming church bells on Easter to symbolize their return and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Fun with Easter Eggs
While dinner time and attending church service is usually a time of reflection for adults, kids in France enjoy traditions that involve fun and games with Easter eggs.
Easter egg hunts are one of the most popular French Easter traditions. The hunts coincide with the story of the ‘Flying Bells’ in that the Easter eggs are scattered around the kids’ backyards for hunting the next morning.
Some kids go as far as building nests as a landing spot for the eggs. More recently, the Easter bunny is starting to work its way into French traditions from Westernized ideals. The egg nests are sometimes filled with carrots as a welcome treat for the Easter bunny when delivering eggs.
Easter Egg hunts happen in homes, churches, and other public gathering places. The biggest Easter egg hunt in France is in Chateaux Vaux le Vicomt, just outside of Paris. Thousands of kids run around to see who can find the most eggs!
French Easter traditions also include other games, which include eggs. The egg roll is a game where kids roll raw eggs down a slope to see who’s egg survives unbroken when it reaches the bottom. The game is symbolic of the giant boulder rolled away from Jesus’s tomb during the resurrection.
Hope you have your sweet tooth ready before celebrating Easter in France because chocolate is unavoidable during the holiday. Everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure has a prominent role in many of the celebrations during Easter.
During the Easter meal, many people enjoy chocolate-based desserts —- and that’s only the beginning of it! People in France enjoy chocolate covered eggs and use chocolate for decoration on a lot of different foods.
The versatility of chocolate makes it an excellent medium for promoting many of the famous figures and symbols of Easter. In addition to chocolate-covered eggs, it’s common to see chocolate designed in the shapes of bells, bunnies, and other figures.
The French use Easter as a time for displaying their artistic crafts, many people going with chocolate as their medium of choice. Chocolate shops, or les confiseries, showcase some of the most beautiful chocolate works of art you’ve ever seen! They put together decorative window displays to exhibit their creations. Just try not to ‘lick the window’ when walking past.
Not everyone gets to experience the excitement of an Easter market, but for those lucky enough to be in Alsace during Easter, you’re in for a treat — literally.
It’s time to forget about the games Christmas markets seen throughout Europe and add the local Easter Market to your bucket list. Easter Markets in the Alsace region are themed outdoor markets filled with everything Easter during the holiday weekend.
You can shop Easter gifts and food while the kids enjoy fun and games, all related to Easter. There are even real-life Easter bunnies to pet, and who doesn’t love a furry little friend? Another awesome thing to do during Easter in France.
Easter in France is a time of celebration for all ages. Families spend time the entire weekend enjoying food, fun, and giving respects to the importance of the holiday to their religion.
French Easter traditions are one of the most festive in the world to celebrate the holiday! Keep reading this blog to learn about some of the popular French traditions aside from French Easter.
Here are some FAQs about French Easter Traditions
How do you say “Happy Easter” in French?
Joyeuses Pâques !
What do the French eat for Easter?
The main dish is lamb, to signify the coming of spring. Many French people fast during lent, and opt for fish. The city of Besseries has a huge gathering of tens of thousands of people to eat a giant omelette!
Do the French have an Easter bunny?
Not until recently. Due to Western culture, the Easter bunny is a new French tradition. So during Easter egg hunts, not only will eggs be placed in the egg nests, but carrots as well!
Why do the French eat chocolate fish on Easter?
These chocolate fish aren’t actually fish. Rather, weeks before Easter, France goes into a chocolate-making frenzy! So all kinds of chocolate delicacies in the shapes of various animals, including bells and fish, are sold and gifted to friends, family, and especially children.
We have chocolate fish, or Fritures de Pâques in particular, because the fish is a symbol of Christianity. These small chocolate fish can be sold in “schools” and packaged in straw baskets or chocolate boxes.
The chocolate fish also coincide with “poisson d’avril,” or “the fish of April.” This tradition apparently dates back to the 16th century, when King Charles IX changed the New Year from April 1st to January 1st. Before then, the coming of April 1st was celebrated with fresh fish to signal the coming of spring.
Not everybody was excited about the calendar change, poking fun until we ended up with the present French custom. So every April Fools’ Day, expect paper fish being tagged on people’s backs!