The French have fascinating Christian traditions during the week before Easter Sunday. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, or Le Dimanche Des Rameaux. “Rameaux” translates to “branches.” Decorated branches are often made of palm leaves, lavender, laurel and rosemary; they are brought to churches to be blessed. These “branches” are a reminder of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem when the townspeople laid palm leaves on the ground on which He could walk.
On Holy Thursday, all the church bells in France are silenced as they mourn Jesus’ death. Then, something bizarre happens as the bells sprout wings and fly to Rome to visit the Pope – the mystery of the flying bells, les cloches volantes! The Pope blesses the bells and they gather chocolate eggs for the French children. The flying bells return to France very early on Easter Sunday morning and drop their goodies into the children’s gardens. Sometimes the Easter bunny, le lapin de Paques, supplies more treats.
The bells again ring with the help of angels (and maybe bunnies) as they celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.
Happy Easter! Joyeuses Paques!