Where Did The Church Bells Go?

And why didn’t they stop at Les Tertres on their way back from Rome?

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day - sunny and warm. When he woke up, Popeye said to me: «Why don’t we take a walk around the garden? Maybe we’ll find some Easter eggs there.»

I looked at him, quite flabbergasted. And then: «This is a joke!»

We laughed but at the same time, we felt a littlke bit sad because it’s been many years since the bells have left eggs in our garden on their way back from Rome.

To those of you who live in countries where bells don’t fly to Rome and back, I’ll have to explain this very French (and Catholic) tradition.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. This happens on Easter Sunday.

Before and after Easter Sunday, there are many very important days in the catholic liturgy.

On Maundy Thursday (the Thursday preceding Easter Sunday), the church bells become silent and only resume their ringing on Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

From a theological standpoint, their silence mean that the faithful are crying over Jesus’ crucifixion.

French children are taught that on Thursday, the village church bells fly away to Rome to be blessed by the Pope (Head of the Catholic Church) and on their way back, during the night between Saturday and Sunday, they scatter chocolate eggs all over gardens and houses where children live.

Some chocolate eggs even end up falling through chimneys and opened windows in city apartments.

No need to be a believer, a true Christian. Bells are loving beings, filled with holiness and they give their eggs to all children alike. (Well, at least this was still true a century ago - the XXth century when Swee’ Pea was a child.)

On Sunday morning (Easter Sunday), bells start ringing and ringing and ringing. Christ is risen.

On Easter Sunday morning, children wake up quite early (some a long time before Mass time) and go hunting for eggs (ie looking for eggs wherever the parents have hidden them).

Bells are flying quite high on their way back from Rome and eggs are scattered everywhere. But children love so much looking for them (and finding as many as they can) that they are very, very active. Amazingly active especially when there are several children around the place.

When we were growing up, the bells started scattering chocolate bunnies and chocolate bells and chocolate hens. The hens make sense of course because of the eggs. The bunnies were probably picked up from bells flying from Germany to Rome since the Easter Bunny is more German than French.

When children have outgrown the habit of «hunting» eggs, you still can buy chocolate eggs and hens and bells and rabbits. Actually, the Easter season starts quite early in stores, just the way Christmas starts early in our Western consumerism.

When you go visiting people, you are supposed to give them Easter eggs just like this one... just the way you give away chocolates for Christmas and lily of the valley on the 1rst of May.

I even wonder if children even listen to the bells nowadays. I doubt it.

One great thing about Easter eggs - If you don’t have much money nor much desire to spend money on chocolate eggs, you still can have eggs to hide in your garden. You buy eggs, boil them hard in water with natural  coloring. There they are, edible and nutritious Easter eggs and fun to find in the garden.

As soon as we bought Les Tertres, we always had wonderful egg hunts of course... even when it was raining hard outside. (It rains very often at Easter time in Brittany.) The eggs would be hidden all over the house if not in the garden and trees.

And sometimes we really wondered when the children would get tired of hunting eggs, especially when they became teenagers. But they kept the tradition alive for quite a long time.

I think that the last egg hunt happened in 1993. Swee’ Pea and his friends were 13ish. Well, it was a lot of fun!
1993 - M.A. and his booty

This year, Easter was very sunny and warm in Brittany but the church bells didn’t stop over Les Tertres... On Sunday, we heard them ringing from the steeple,  2.4 miles away because a very strong southwest wind was blowing.

I don’t want to believe our garden was empty because we don’t have children around any longer.

This makes more sense and is a lot more satisfying, don’t you think?


"Lost?! What do you mean? We are lost?! Next year, I'll buy a GPS!!"

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Nancy said...

Easter in France looks much yummier than Easter in America—do you know how much better European chocolate is?

I can see you miss 'kid' Easter—you should have an Easter egg hunt for you and Popeye! Why not?

We had an egg hunt in my parents' backyard this year, but I really did enjoy your explanation of how the eggs got there...I'm not a big fan of the "Easter Bunny." Now I feel I need to look up German traditions and see why we have one!

Michelle said...

What a lovely tradition! I love hearing church bells, it's one of my favorite things about Europe. I wish we had more here.

Colleen said...

I too miss the European church bells. LeRon and I were in Salzburg one Easter a few years ago. Friday was a dreary day and we noticed that the church bells were silent. (Salzburg has about 40 churches so usually there's a lot of ringing going on). Then Easter Sunday morning about 6 a.m., the bells started ringing and they rang and rang and rang. Jesus has risen! Hallelujah! It was awesome to hear. I didn't know it was a Catholic tradition. I really like it. I wish we had church bells on all our churches. Love ya, dear Christine.

Myrna said...

I think the bells tradition is beautiful, too! Thanks for sharing this--all new to me!