Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter in France begins with Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), a part of Carnival. Because of France’s strong Catholic tradition, their calendar observes the same days that Catholic churches all over the world do: Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday leading up to Easter.
Most Americans associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, but the first Carnival was celebrated in Nice, France. Carnival in France lasts for two weeks, with parades, fireworks, and masked balls.
Since the 12th century, all the bells in France are silenced on the Thursday before Good Friday. Most villages and cities in France have at least one church with a bell, like this cathedral in Arras, France. French children all know that the bells have departed for Rome. On Easter, the bells (les cloches de Paques) return, bringing with them Easter eggs and chocolate. The bells drop the treats along the way as they pass through the skies, making their way back to their belfries.
Another tradition, happening around April 1, is Poisson d’Avril. On this day, children make paper fish and stick them on the backs of unsuspecting adults.

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