I am currently reading David Sedaris’ ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’. I find David to be a humorous guy, and I am enjoying this book. Last night, I read his story about taking French lessons while in France. The Easter holiday was being discussed in his class, and he learned that the French believe the church bells fly to Rome on Good Friday, returning on Easter Sunday with goodies for the kids. Really? Bells? I was intrigued.
This morning, I accessed the internet first thing, because everyone knows, if you read it on the internet it must be true. Whereas, an author of a book has the freedom to embellish. Though if the author’s book is also on the internet, does this mean there is no embellishment and it is 100% true? I wonder. And, I digress. My apologies. As I was saying, if you read it on the internet it must be true, so I accessed the internet to find out the facts of the Easter holiday celebrated in France.
Bells. Bells are the equivalent of the American Easter Bunny. In my internet research, I found that the predominant religion in France is Roman-Catholic, and there is a church in every village or town. Furthermore, the majority of churches have bells, which ring through out the year, marking various events and the passage of time. Apparently, on the Thursday before Good Friday, all church bells in France are silenced in acknowledgment of Jesus’ death. And, the children are told that the bell’s chimes have flown to Rome to see the Pope. On Easter morning, the bells ring out once again, noting the Resurrection and claiming that Jesus is alive again. With the ringing of the bells, children wake to look for decorated eggs hidden in homes, playgrounds and gardens. The children are told the eggs were brought back to France by the bells returning from Rome. In addition, it is said that in some parts of France, children look for small chariots full of eggs and pulled by white horses.
As a child, I never understood why a bunny would come to my house on Easter delivering eggs. Sure, I loved the candy, and I love the hunt for eggs. But, I didn’t understand it. And, I can’t say I found it as easy to believe in the Easter Bunny as it was to believe in Santa. At least Santa had opposable thumbs, enabling him to fill stockings and work the reigns on the sleigh. The Easter bunny? Yeah, I wasn’t buying that, even at a young age.
After finding out about the Easter tradition in France and the ‘belief’ that the bells deliver eggs, I have a greater appreciation for faith. “Faith is believing in something common sense tells you not to” is a quote used frequently when discussing a belief based on faith. Common sense certainly tells me that a bunny is not going to come to my door on Easter morning, just as a man in a red suit is not going to come down my chimney on Christmas Eve. However, neither the Easter bunny (or bell) nor Santa are true examples of faith from the religious – more specifically, the Christian – standpoint. Instead, and I am not suggesting this is breaking news, these creations exist to bring attention to the greater meaning of the faith-based holidays. Perhaps, these creations are a sugar coating on a pill that would otherwise be bitter to swallow. Really, I haven’t a clue why humans created Santa, the Easter Bunny or even the Tooth Fairy, though the tooth fairy is not religiously based. What I do know is that I am more likely to believe a fairy is going to fly into my bedroom window, leaving a prize under my pillow in exchange for a tooth, than I am to believe a bell is returning from Rome with eggs for me. Bells? Really? Makes me laugh.