Like Easter in the US, Easter in France is synonymous with traditional and essential motifs: rabbits, eggs, chocolates, chickens or floral motifs, and, of course, the traditional Easter dinner.
Easter in France
“Easter”is called ‘Pâques’ with a capital ‘P’ and an ‘s’ at the end. You’ll hear people wishing each other “Joyeuses Pâques” or sending cards with traditional easter images with the greeting Joyeuses Pâques on it. While the holiday is, of course, a religious one it is also a traditional gathering for families, religious or not. For Easter, France enjoys a three day weekend, as Easter Monday is also a national holiday
Celebrating Easter - French Chocolatiers
France has always taken its chocolate houses and the art of making chocolate very seriously and Easter brings out their very best. The designer chocolate boutiques in Paris launch full-scale campaigns to boast the most impressive designer Easter egg display in town. There is no mucking around in this city– ‘Haute chocolat’ at Easter in Paris is rather serious, not to mention a lucrative business. The chocolates are intricately designed and decorated that many confectionaries set the chocolate eggs, chocolate hens, rabbits, baskets etc. up in their shop windows as enticing art displays, drawing customers for a visit. The French call window shopping, “lécher les vitrines“, literally to ‘lick the windows’. With chocolate displays this tempting, it might happen in practice.
Image © Rachel Bajada
La Chasse Aux Oeufs – The Easter Egg Hunt
According to tradition in France, chocolate for the kids is not “delivered” / “dropped” by the Easter Bunny, but by “flying bells” – yes, flying bells! Since church bells are not rung between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, children are told that the bells “have all flown to Rome”. On Easter Sunday morning, the bells “return” and start ringing, bringing with them all the chocolate for the kids. So, everywhere in the shops and chocolate boutiques in France, you’ll find lots of chocolate bells symbolizing the return and the ringing of the bells.
Once the bells have returned on Easter Sunday, the traditional Easter egg hunt begins inside and outside the house. As the street holds still, someone yells out ‘les cloches sont passées!' to fire off the event. Right on cue, “la chasse aux oeufs” – the easter egg hunt - begins and the children quickly rush outside to find and collect as many chocolate and sugar eggs in the form of hens, roosters, bunnies, and lambs as possible.
The event is typically held outdoors, but many French families now choose to set the hunt up indoors. Depending on the age of the children participating, the Easter Egg Hunt’s difficulty can vary, with certain obstacles added to make the hunt more exciting.
Traditional French Dinner – L’Agneau Pascal (Easter Lamb)
Dinner may include a side of spring asparagus with vinaigrette-infused boiled eggs and fresh chives for flavor.
Dessert is often the first strawberries of spring or a nest-shaped cake, although many people enjoy chocolate treats on the occasion, and children get a chance to feast on the Easter Eggs they have collected.
Traditions in Alsace
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the region of Alsace celebrates Easter with some special markets and differences. In Alsace, people decorate their houses before Easter. Branches are set up with painted eggs, spring flowers and little figurines hanging beautifully in the windows or in the center of a table. This is the one place where the “bells don’t fly”, as they’ve kept the German tradition of Easter rabbits bringing the eggs instead. Children create nests with leaves, moss or grass which they place in the garden, hoping that during the night, the Easter Bunny will fill them up with multi-colored (and chocolate) eggs.
Alsace also has a traditional cake called “Lamalas de Pâques”, a cake cooked in the shape of a lamb covered in icing sugar. For the record, “Lamalas de Pâques” means “little Easter lamb”. The Lamala is most often eaten at breakfast time or in the afternoon with a glass of white wine from Alsace or coffee. The lamala is cooked in a specific mold, once unmolded it is sprinkled with icing sugar, decorated with a red ribbon tied around its neck. Its crumb of a beautiful yellow color is very light.
Easter Springtime - Decorating in Style
For us here in the United States, preparing for our own Easter ham or lamb dinners or brunches is a time that is often accompanied by some new linens—be it with tablecloths, table runners, accent pillows, or even tea towels with a spring or Easter motif into our homes.
Spring/Easter French Table Linens
Named after the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, these placemats with a High Thread Count are classically French, reflecting Eugenie's love of beauty and jewels. The pattern reveals precious butterflies, pearl necklaces, Empire style moldings, enhanced by fresh spring colors. If one looks closely, they can see cameos and strings of pearls woven throughout this pattern. The fineness of the pattern is achieved through its high thread count which lends an extra special luxurious feel to the fabric and highlights the woven design. Every item (except napkins) in this collection is made from 100% cotton with Green Sweet stain-resistant technology for easy care, so spilled liquids can easily be wiped off. This pattern also has matching napkins and table runner.
Another popular pattern in spring is Garnier-Thiebaut’s Lysandra Rose French Jacquard Tablecloths. This classically French, romantic table runner in dove white and camille pink is ideal for any elegant dinner party or setting with friends and family throughout the year. Every item (except napkins) in this collection is also made from 100% cotton with Green Sweet stain-resistant technology for easy care, so spilled liquids can easily be wiped off. Matching apron, tablecloths, napkins, and placemats available.
Beauvillé. Equally beautiful and deserving of mention, is the entire Beauvillé collection of seasonal or floral tablecloths. Too many to detail here, but if you’re searching for an irresistible bouquet for your table, consider their Agapanthes Collection, or their Orchidées tablecloths. They are a visual holiday in satin cotton and available in different colorways. Each has matching table runners available if looking for an accent piece for a table or hunt board.
Introduce a Springtime Fragrance to Your Home
If having guests this Easter, bring nature and the outside into your home with the addition of Aromatic’s, Smell of Spring Home Fragrance. This scent is an enticing floral mixture of hyacinth, jasmine, and rose, touched lightly with lily of the valley adding the essence of spring to any home décor. Available in diffusers, spray, and potpourri. You won’t be disappointed with this signature scent of Aromatic.
Introduce some European Accent Pillows
Part of the Beatrix Potter Collection by Yapatkwa Belgium, these charming woven tapestry Belgian decorative pillow / cushion covers are ideal for Easter decorating or for use in a child's room based on the artwork in the children's book series, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
Equally charming for spring and Easter decorating, consider the lovely Cabbage Patch Collection, a series of 6 images of bunnies hiding amongst cabbages and lettuces by British designer Kelly Stevens-McLaughlan.
Handmade entirely in England, this is a stunning collection when grouped together and a perfect way to bring spring into your home year round.
These cushions are expertly printed onto both sides of a linen and cotton blend fabric to give a crisp image where every detail of the original artwork shines beautifully through. They are fitted with discreet zip fasteners for easy access and finished with coordinated piping.
Last but Never Least - French Easter Kitchen / Tea Towels
An easy, and highly effective way of decorating your home for Easter is with the addition of any number of classic French kitchen / tea towels with a spring or easter motif. Some of our favorites are made by Beauvillé and Garner-Thiebaut. They welcome spring with open arms and will serve you well for many years. They also make the perfect hostess gift if going to a relative’s or friends home for dinner.