Quelque chose qui cloche

Lundi de Pâques here in France gives me a good excuse to reblog this one from the archives. Easter Monday is a holiday in our parts so I feel like goofing off. Whether you’re enjoying a day off or back to the grind, enjoy this story of bells and bunnies.


shutterstock_26340932The French expression “quelque chose qui cloche” (literally: something is off) describes a situation that doesn’t quite add up. A cloche is also a bell, and Easter tradition has it that the church bells (“les cloches”) fly away to Rome and return at Pâques full of chocolate eggs which they hide in the gardens for children to collect.

When I first heard that story, I scoffed. Flying bells bringing Easter eggs? How far-fetched can you get?

But upon reflection, is it any more ridiculous than the idea of a bunny bringing Easter eggs? Or of Santa bringing presents to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus? While we’re at it, what have chocolate eggs got to do with the resurrection of Christ? Isn’t there “quelque chose qui cloche” in that whole story?

The fact is that the pagan festival of “Eostre” was conscripted by the Catholic church for its own purposes…

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  1. phildange · April 22, 2019

    Congrats for the word play in your title .
    You mean you never saw any bell’s flight in spring ? If so, i guess you never saw either the little mouse that brings a coin under the pillow at night when a kid lost one’s tooth ? Too bad, “la petite souris” was and still is well-known here . You definitely are not French .
    Regarding the Christ well, in my family’s Gospel that my ancestor brought back from the Crusades, it is said that to feed the multitudes Jesus multiplied breads completed by a little unknown black sweet piece from far across the sea . As nobody knew what it was, the Fathers of the Church decided to skip this detail . But we in France are real Christians, unlike you Pagan with your “Eostre”.

    • MELewis · April 22, 2019

      The little mouse is a fairy, didn’t you know? She kept my son’s first tooth hidden along with a lock of his hair in a secret hiding place known only to me for many years. I am a happy pagan but my late mother would be turning in her grave to hear you call me that. I went to mass with her every Sunday until I was old enough to refuse at 16. And the manna or bread that Jesus multiplied to feed the masses was definitely part of my Catholic upbringing. Happy ‘Eostre’! 😜

  2. 355101pkl · April 22, 2019

    “Something is off” Indeed when you wake up to news on “Lundi de Pâques” that 290 people are dead from a bomb attack on churches, of all places.

    • MELewis · April 22, 2019

      Horrifying news. Churches in Sri Lanka. Just like mosques in Christchurch. Le monde est fou! 😢

  3. Heide · April 22, 2019

    I’d never heard that one about the bells flying off to Rome and coming back loaded with Easter eggs. But you’re right that it’s no less preposterous than a rabbit delivering chocolates (or the Three Wise Men putting candies in my shoes — IN MY SHOES! — when I was a child in Mexico). Some things are so nonsensical that it’s best to simply nod, smile, and carry on. Oh, yes … and also wash your feet, ha ha! Thank you for this light and enjoyable read, especially after the sad news over the holiday weekend.

    • MELewis · April 23, 2019

      Glad to have shared that particular ditty of French folklore with you, Heide. I for one did not know about the candles in shoes. Illuminating indeed!

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