Learn French In France, on the French Riviera
Easter

Easter symbols and traditions

Eggs, rabbits, chickens and bells all made from chocolate: it’s time to talk about the symbols and traditions which mark Easter in France.

When we think about decorating eggs and hunting for them in the garden, when we talk about chocolate rabbits, chickens and bells, or when we taste a leg of lamb, our thoughts are inevitably focused on a very specific time of the year. These foods are associated in most people’s minds with the festival of Easter, which will be celebrated on 16 April this year. The origins of these symbols go back a long way of course. The rabbit is a sign of fertility which is Germanic in origin. It marks the end of Lent and the beginning of fine days ahead. As for eggs, they are also associated with renewal and rebirth, recalling the theme of the Resurrection of Christ. Whether it’s Buona Pasqua ! in Italy, Happy Easter! in the UK, Frohe Ostern ! in Germany, or ¡Felices Pascuas ! in Spain, Easter is a holiday celebrated in numerous countries. But how do the French mark this festival?

Usually, parents hide eggs in the garden or throughout the house. In many towns and villages, ‘egg hunts’ are also organised for children. Easter lamb is a culinary tradition which many families adhere to. Most people in France will prepare a leg of lamb to be served with potatoes and green or flageolet beans (in case you’ve forgotten, gigot is the French word for “leg of lamb”, specifically the back leg of the animal). To conclude, how about we take a look at some idiomatic expressions involving... eggs and rabbits?

As in English, the French expression mettre tous ces œufs dans le même panier (“to put all of the eggs in the same basket”) means committing all of your resources to the same project at the risk of losing everything if there’s a problem. Va te faire cuire un œuf (“go cook yourself an egg”) is a more informal expression that you can use when you are annoyed. It means something like: “Go away and leave me alone!” Finally, poser un lapin à quelqu’un (“to put down a rabbit for someone”) means to stand someone up, whether a friend or a work contact. Funny, don’t you think? Happy Easter to everyone!

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