» Easter and Good Friday in France
Easter and Good Friday in France
France is a Catholic country with a strong Catholic history and thus celebrates the most auspicious week of Easter with all dedication and enthusiasm. The people here follow the traditions and rituals and commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross on the day of Good Friday. It falls on the Friday before the Easter Sunday. Good Friday symbolises the mourning of the Jesus’s crucifixion and Easter is the time of celebration as it is the day when Jesus rose from death on the third day of crucifixion. People celebrate the day with much fun and frolic.
Good Friday Traditions:
- Religious View: The day of Good Friday is almost the end of a week throughout which Jesus’ sacrifice and preaching’s remembered. As crucifixion is a significant event in Christianity, people keep fast and do penance to mourn the death of Jesus for the sin of humanity. It was during the Roman rule in between 300 CE and 400 CE that Christianity was introduced in France.
- Rituals: In France like other Christian countries, people attend the special mass and church services. Special services are arranged in the Alsace region. On this day the Church bells are tied to keep it silent as a symbol of mourning till the day of Easter. Many people keep fast and keep themselves away from any kind of meat.
- Symbols: Images of Jesus on the cross, simple crosses, palm fronds, olive branches are the various symbols of Good Friday. In certain areas of France, people eat traditional bread similar to the hot cross buns called Brioche du Careme.
- Life on Good Friday: It is not a public holiday in many parts of France. In some parts of Alsace and Lorraine, it is declared as a holiday. Most of the schools and educational institutes remain closed throughout the country. Holiday is given on Easter Monday, the day after Easter Sunday. Good Friday is declared as a public holiday in areas that are in close proximity to the German border and the overseas departments of Guadeloupe, French Guinea and Martinique. Certain public services may remain open based on the need for limited hours.
- Religious View: The day is the end of mourning and the beginning of celebration as it is the day when their beloved Lord Jesus came back to life after the crucifixion. It is the time of celebration as it symbolises the victory of truth over evil and the coming back of the Son of God.
- Rituals: The Christians generally attend special services at the church that are organised to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The church bells are rung for the first time after two days silence to mark the beginning of celebration and the end of mourning. It is done in a celebratory way starting the church services on the day of Easter. This ritual is known as Easter Bells.
- Symbols: Easter eggs made of chocolate, spring flowers, bird’s egg and consuming meat are the various symbols of Easter. Along with Easter eggs and rabbits; Easter chocolate fish is the speciality of France during Easter. People eat festive meals which comprise of roasted lamb and spring beans. Other fresh vegetables, which are recently harvested, are also added. Bright coloured boiled eggs and omelettes are also very popular. People in Alsace region make special biscuits called Osterammele. These are baked in the clay mould and are given the shape of a lamb in the sitting posture. Children are given Easter eggs and Osterammele as gifts and they believe that the gifts are given to them by Easter rabbits, hares and even bells.
- Life on Easter Sunday: As Easter Monday is a traditional holiday, people get a long weekend and prefer to plan a holiday with the family. They indulge themselves in picnic and other festive activities. Various games are arranged for the children like rolling of eggs down the slope and tossing the eggs in the air. As special masses are conducted, churches remain closed for visitors.
Highly influenced by Roman-Catholicism, these days are celebrated in both sombre and joyous way. Easter and Good Friday in France has everything from magnificent churches, delicious chocolates, rituals and children’s games. It is definitely a celebration time.