April Fish and Easter Bells 2:05 p.m. 2004-04-01

Current Listening: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding and Alice Alone by Amanda Brookfield (listened to both on road trip!
Current Reading: La Casa Loca and Making Shrines and Altars by Kathy Cano Murillo
Recipes of the Day: Menu and Recipes for Build a Taco Party!

I borrowed the digital camera here at school, and took pictures of the papier mache decoupaged bells that I did. I have uploaded them to my Photo Album.

Do you know about the Easter Bells? Because I am lazy, I am going to copy and paste some information from the Internet about this French tradition.

(So it serves me right if there are any typos!)

First of all, today is April Fool's Day! In France, it is called the Poisson d'Avril (the fish of Easter). Chocolate fish are available in most shops. The real "Poisson d'Avril", however, appearance on April 1st. French children delight in playing a kind of April Fool's trick. They stick a paper fish on the back of as many adults as possible--most of whom are quite tolerant. The children then run away yelling "Poisson d'Avril!" which of course means "April Fish". This tradition dates back several centuries. One account suggests that it has evolved from a fish trick where the innocent person was sent off to the market to purchase freshwater fish when it was not in season.

I remember when I was a French Teacher in Monticello, Georgia. I had my high school student draw fish and gave them points the fish that were brought back by the victims of the prank! Administrators were 15 points - no wonder they loved me!

Back to the bells. Easter is called P‚ques in France. Chickens and rabbits are popular Easter symbols in many countries. Bells and fish are an important part of the French Easter tradition. Easter is one of the most important holiday celebrations for French children. As in America and many other European countries, the religious message of Easter is increasingly being drowned out by the commercialization of the holiday. The children as in many other country receive colorfully decorated eggs. The French begin their Easter season several weeks before Easter actually begins. Shop windows are gayly decorated in a festive collection of white and dark chocolate rabbits, chickens, bells and fish.

Cloches volantes or Flying Bells are another important part of the French Easter tradition. French Catholic have a tradition that on Good Friday all the church bells in France miraculously fly to the Vatican in Rome. They carry with them all the misery and grief of those who mourn Jesus' crucifixion on that day. These flying French bells then return on Easter morning in time for the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. They of course bring with them lots of chocolate and eggs which are left in yards for the children to collect in their baskets when they wake up in the morning. In keeping with the tradition, French church bells do not ring from Good Friday to Easter morning.

There is a great article by Susan Hermann Loomis (of On Rue Tatin fame) called Bells and Fishes that addresses this strange tradition.

Last weekend, I sold my bells filled with Hershey's Kisses and wrapped in cellophane with irridescent Easter grass and colorful curling ribbon. I also included a card with an explanation of the tradition.

I may have come in late for this year, but I went ahead and sent e-mails with jpegs to Maison Robert and Douceur de France - two places here in Atlanta that I thought might be able to use them. I will also do something for Christmas!

I didn't pull too many pranks today. I tried to get one of my gangster clothed hoodlums to change clothes with someone who was reasonably dressed, but they wouldn't do it. That's no fun!

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