With less than a week until Pâques, or Easter as it is known in England, here at French Chef at Home we have been reflecting on the French traditions around this holiday.
As a traditionally Christian holiday, Easter serves to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday. Catholic tradition dictates that Church bells don’t ring between Good Friday, “Vendredi Saint”, and Easter Sunday to commemorate the death of Christ and his resurrection. The French tradition states that les Cloches de Pâques, “Easter bells”, fly to Rome during this period to be blessed by the Pope before returning home with presents for the children.
As the bells fly back on Saturday night, Easter Sunday begins with la chasse aux oeufs, an exciting egg hunt. The children (and the young at heart) of the family collect chocolate or sugar eggs, hens, roosters, chicks, bunnies, lambs and flying bells. Originally the eggs were real, boiled and then decorated by children.
These prizes are all symbols of Easter in France and represent nature’s rebirth and resurrection after winter. Easter provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the coming of spring and the hopefully warmer weather.
Just as in England, Easter is a family holiday where people gather together with their loved ones. Food is often the focal point of the celebration, with chocolate Easter eggs and lamb traditionally served. Boiled eggs can also make a fantastic starter to your Easter feast, in keeping with historic tradition.
L’Agneau Pascal, (Easter lamb) is a common favourite in France, largely because Jesus is identified with the sacrificial lamb of the Jewish tradition. Lambs also symbolise new life. Cooking lamb for seven hours is a fantastic way to serve the meat a little differently. This meal is very easy, bringing the whole family together both for the cooking and eating.
Cooking the lamb for seven hours ensures it is very tender when served and falls right off the bone. Combine with traditional vegetables such as carrots and onions, and add a splash of white wine and Armagnac to take your delicious English casserole to France. Serving with a spoon, a la cuillère in France, finishes off a perfect Easter dish.
Enjoy – and we wish you a very Happy Easter et Joyeuses Pâques!