This year: Friday, March 31, 2017
For the French, Easter is not just a religious feast. They believe that it is not obligatory observing all Christian rites to be able to participate in this event. The French congratulate their relatives, friends and acquaintances. And even if it comes with The Easter occasion, what they actually mean is something different - they wish all the best and kindest. It is as if they said: "Life is so beautiful! And soon it will be spring!"
The week before Easter is called the Passion Week. Its every day is important for religious people. The week begins with Palm Sunday, the day when Christ entered Jerusalem. People around the world go to churches for the blessing of palm leaves. As you know, palms do not grow in France, and so willow-branches are used for blessing. On Good Friday Christ was crucified. It is very important to attend the Mourning Mass on this day, as it is considered to be the most important in the whole year.
The egg is symbolic for Easter Day, and being a symbol of life, it dates back to pagan rites of spring. It symbolizes life and Resurrection in Christian tradition. People believed that eggs laid on Easter had the strongest protective powers. This is why they collected them and used for very special occasions.
Today, like in many other European countries, Easter Rabbit has become a very popular symbol of the holiday in France. It is exactly this Rabbit that brings colored eggs. To understand the origins of this tradition we need to refer to ancient pagan rites. The legend says that Astra - a pagan Goddess of spring - turned a bird into a rabbit, but still he went on laying eggs. The second explanation of this phenomenon is much simpler. Once on Easter morning, when children went to the chicken coop to collect eggs, they saw rabbits in the grass and thought that it was them who had brought the eggs inside.
All French shops start selling chocolate eggs, hens, roosters and rabbits a month before the holiday. Early on Easter morning, parents hide chocolate eggs in the garden and when children get up, they find them under the bushes, in flower-beds, in the grass, etc.