During March and April, stores begin to be decorated and the festivities begin. The eggs and bunnies that surface during this time have been known to be a symbol of rebirth and spring. Chocolate has become part of those traditions due to Easter being at the end of a 40-day period of Lent. During this time period, Christians have “given up” especially rich or animal foods. Once Good Friday arrives, they enjoy the foods they sacrificed by preparing them in traditional dishes. And since chocolate is known as a luxury item it was given as gifts during the celebrations.
The French have expanded this concept and have incorporated it with the Cloche Volant or “flying bell”. Tradition dictates that church bells are silenced on Holy Thursday and not rung on Good Friday or the Saturday following. The legend suggests that the silence took place as the bells flew from their steeples to Rome, to visit the Pope. While they are there, the Pope blesses the bells and fills them with chocolate treats. The bells return from Rome in time to declare with music that Jesus has risen and scatter the chocolates amongst the gardens. This contributes to the idea of Easter Egg hunts should be conducted outside.
Decorated eggs play a large role in the Easter holiday. France is well known for its astounding chocolatiers who create intricately carved and bedazzled chocolate eggs that resemble works of art. Often the windows are elaborately decorated for the holiday with eggs, chickens and fish, so incredibly designed that it is almost hard to ruin them by consuming them. Hard….but certainly not impossible. Since chocolate is one of our very favourite things, we are definitely looking forward to enjoying that custom during an upcoming Easter holiday spent in Collioure.