How to say happy Easter in French (plus other Easter traditions)

How to say happy Easter in French (plus other Easter traditions)

by Clara Avrillier

Updated November 9, 2022

Easter is one of the most important celebrations in the Christian religion and it is celebrated in different ways around the world. In France, Easter Monday is a public holiday and people honor the Easter weekend through traditional meals and events. While many French Easter traditions may be similar to your country, some may differ. In this article, you’ll find out how to say happy Easter in French, learn some other useful Easter vocabulary and discover some Easter traditions in France. 

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Happy Easter and other useful vocabulary

First things first, how do you say happy Easter in French? 

  • Joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter) 

Here is some other useful Easter vocabulary you can use in French:

BellsLes cloches
Bunny Un lapin
Easter eggL’œuf de Pâques
Easter SundayDimanche de Pâques 
Good FridayVendredi Saint
LentLe carême
MassLa messe 
SpringLe printemps 

Learn more Easter vocabulary and traditions so that you’re well prepared for your next visit to France!

French Easter traditions 

France is often considered a secular country. However, Christianity is the most common religion, therefore many people like to attend mass at Easter given that it’s such an important religious event. There are many other Easter traditions, so let’s take a look at them.

Where’s the Easter bunny?

In many English-speaking countries, the Easter bunny is a familiar face for children hoping to get their hands on some Easter chocolate. In France, the Easter bunny is replaced with holy flying bells known as les cloches de Pâques. The story of the bells is that they fly off to the Vatican on Maundy Thursday (silencing church bells) and return on Easter Sunday, bringing chocolate and other goodies. This is where the saying attendez que les cloches sonnent (wait for the bells to ring) comes from. The Easter bunny does exist however in some regions, such as Alsace.

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Easter egg hunt 

On Easter Sunday, children across the country take part in the traditional Easter egg hunt, or la chasse aux œufs. Various public hunts take place in villages and towns, including a very well-known one held by the non-profit organization Secours Populaire

Fritures de Pâques

Fritures de Pâques are chocolates in the shape of fish and can be found in most chocolatiers in France. Fish are the symbol of Christianity and in the past were a signal to distinguish friends from foes. 

Take a walk by a famous chocolate shop like La Maison du Chocolat at Easter time and you will see an incredible display of fritures de Pâques and other Easter-themed chocolate displays in the window. 

Easter meal

France is renowned for its food so it should come as no surprise that there is a traditional meal to eat at Easter. The most popular dish is of course lamb, either served up as gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) or navarin d’agneau (spring lamb stew). In terms of an entrée, you might find asparagus or eggs, symbolic of the spring season and fertility. 

Easter in Alsace

A special mention goes to the northeastern region of Alsace. Most people associate this region with Christmas thanks to its famous Christmas markets, but Easter is another occasion that the region celebrates in a special way. 

This historic region has passed between the hands of France and Germany, which is why there are still many Germanic Easter traditions (like the Easter bunny). Other traditions include a “clean up” operation during Holy week, also known as an ‘Easter dust’, fabulous decorations and Easter markets and events.

Celebrate Easter in France

Easter is a great event to celebrate in France thanks to all of its traditions. If you love this holiday, it’s worth doing some research on Easter events so you don’t miss out. And now that you know how to say happy Easter in French, you’re good to go!

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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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