Easter in Provence : origins.
Updated: May 24
I. Discover the origins of Easter and its provençal traditions
I thought you might be interested in discovering the Easter traditions in France, also called "Pâques"!
It is an important holiday in France, both religious and traditional. It is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is celebrated every year on the Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st.
In France, we celebrate it with our families. We enjoy a long weekend of three days because Easter Monday is a public holiday.
During this holiday, children do an egg hunt. In France, it is the bells that bring the eggs (not a rabbit).
Traditionally, French families cook a big Easter meal with a leg of lamb.
II. Easter in Provence: origins and traditions
1. How is the word Easter written and what is its gender?
The word "Pâques" is spelled with an "â" and an "s" at the end. It is a feminine noun in French. It comes from the Latin "pascha," which means "Pâque."
The term "Pâque" is of Hebrew origin and is associated with the Jewish celebration of Pâque, which commemorates the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
It is written in the singular in this context.
The word "Pâques" is used in the plural when it refers to the Christian holiday that celebrates the
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In summary, the word "Pâques" has Latin and Hebrew origins and can be used in the singular or plural depending on the context.
2.Easter in Provence: a little bit of culture...
Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Easter, on the other hand, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death, on Easter Sunday.
According to Christian tradition, Jesus Christ died on the cross on Good Friday, was placed in a tomb, and rose again on the third day, Easter Sunday.
Thus, Good Friday is a day of fasting and contemplation for Christians, while Easter Sunday is a day of celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The link between Good Friday and Easter is therefore the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
These two events are considered among the most important in the Christian religion.
III. Easter in Provence: the tradition of the Easter bells
The tradition of the bells bringing Easter eggs dates back to the ancient Christian belief that the church bells left for Rome on Holy Thursday and did not return until Easter Sunday.
During their absence, the bells did not ring to recall the pain and grief of Jesus' crucifixion.
Upon their return on Easter Sunday, the bells rang again to announce the resurrection of Jesus.
According to legend, during their journey to Rome, the bells brought back chocolate Easter eggs for children.
Over time, this legend has transformed into a tradition where the bells have become symbols of the arrival of Easter, bringing eggs for children in gardens and public parks.
Thus, children believe that the bells have hidden the Easter eggs for them to find.
It is important to note that this tradition of the bells bringing Easter eggs is mainly present in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and some parts of Canada, and that other countries have their own Easter traditions.
1. Origins and traditions on the feast of Easter: who brings eggs to other countries?
In Germany and Austria, it is the Easter Bunny (Osterhase in German) who brings the Easter eggs.
In England, the tradition of the Easter egg hunt is very popular, but there is no animal or object that brings the eggs.
In the United States, the Easter Bunny is very popular and often brings chocolate eggs to children.
Of course, there are other traditions in other countries, but these are among the best known.
2. Origins and traditions of Easter: Easter by region
In France, each region has its own Easter traditions. Here are some examples:
In northern regions such as Picardy or Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Easter bells are replaced by "egg hunts" organized in gardens or public parks.
Children search for chocolate or sugar eggs hidden by their parents.
In Provence, it is traditional to prepare a leg of lamb accompanied by flageolets, potatoes, and peas.
You can also taste "Easter fougasses," anise-flavored brioche decorated with hard-boiled eggs.
In the Vosges, Easter is celebrated by organizing a large nighttime procession called the "Easter Vigil." The inhabitants gather around a big fire and light candles to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
In Alsace, "lammele" is prepared, which are small lamb-shaped cakes, and "Easter nests," which are shortbread nests filled with sugar eggs.
Trees can also be decorated with painted eggs.
In Corsica, "panzarotti" is prepared, which are fried pastries filled with brousse and brocciu, a Corsican cheese.
You can also taste "canistrelli," dry biscuits flavored with anise and white wine.
Of course, there are many other Easter traditions throughout France, but these will give you an idea of the different customs according to the regions.
IV. Origins and traditions on the feast of Easter: does this feast exist in other countries? If so, which countries?
Easter is celebrated in many countries around the world, although traditions and customs vary.
In many countries, people decorate eggs and organize Easter egg hunts for children.
In Spain, there is Holy Week leading up to Easter, during which there are religious processions in the streets.
In Italy, there is a tradition of eating a colomba, a cake shaped like a dove.
In the United States, there is an Easter tradition where the Easter Bunny brings baskets filled with candy and other treats to children.
In many countries, Easter is also a public holiday, such as in France.
1. Origins and traditions of Easter: spring holidays or Easter holidays
The Easter vacation is also called "spring break".
It is a highly appreciated period for families because it allows them to go on vacation or enjoy the return of the sun and longer days.
The spring break lasts two weeks and is staggered in time according to three geographical zones.
The division of France into zones for school holidays was established in 1964 by the Minister of National Education at the time, Christian Fouchet.
The objective of this measure was to better distribute holidaymakers across the territory and to avoid traffic jams and overcrowding in the most popular tourist areas.
Initially, France was divided into two zones, Zone A and Zone B. Zone C was created later.
These zones correspond to academies (groups of departments) and were defined based on geographical and demographic criteria.
This division into zones is still in effect today and applies to Christmas, winter, and spring vacations.
We are in Zone B. Therefore, our children will be on vacation this year from April 17th to April 29th.
There you go, I hope you enjoyed it and now know a little more about Easter traditions in France!
When you come to us for your stay in Provence, I will be happy to share this excursion with you.
I will also be very happy to help you discover the landscapes, the scents, the culture of this beautiful region while helping you improve your French.
À bientôt en Provence !
Virginie In Provence