With the sociologist Jean Viard we talk today about this Easter weekend and the Easter holidays in three zones. A traditional family moment, a moment of pleasure also with eggs and chocolate.
franceinfo: Finally, how is Easter different from Christmas?
John Viard: Easter is actually a month after the vernal equinox, and Easter signifies passage while Christmas is a birth. And that means passing before the Christian world. In fact, Easter is when the Jews left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea to Israel. And basically it was the great geographic passage that made possible the liberation of Jewish slaves.
And then the Christians actually picked up on the date and the fact that it was a month after the vernal equinox. For them it is the passage, it is the resurrection for the Christians, the resurrection of Christ, which for them is their main feast.
Jesus is a prophet in all religions at the same time, including the Muslims. But in fact the idea of the resurrection is a very close idea, especially Christian and that is the founding act, because Jesus was born so much the better for him, but it applies to each of us, that’s the difference.
Easter is actually that rite of passage, and that rite of passage, like there used to be, there was Lent, which is the 40 days before Easter, we didn’t eat much — it’s a bit like Ramadan among Muslims — and Lent, which the Church had in medieval times decided that we must abstain from eggs during Lent, so we piled up the eggs and, not knowing what to do, we scooped from them. They had become decorative objects. Indeed, this is how the Easter egg was born. And then in the 18th century we had the idea of filling it with chocolate.
So there’s a whole story, but it’s over 3000 years and it takes us to the bottom, from the vernal equinox, the arrival of spring, the flowers, love, etc. and then from the other side, these religious rituals transition out the Christian and Jewish world.
For the French, Easter is often a family celebration and a family moment, but not everyone is on vacation in France at the same time, there are questions about territories, which is not the case at Christmas?
And I don’t think that’s very smart, because we forget that the heart of social bonds is family and most families aren’t in the same school district. Christmas is good because actually we can bring the family together because we are all on vacation at the same time. Skiing in February: We can understand the economic concerns that mean the snow doesn’t last very long. In the mountains we distribute the clientele to run the business, there are thousands of jobs in the snow, you can understand that.
I honestly don’t quite understand Easter: I would be for the Easter holidays where we can all get families together for that time without it getting complicated because some are in Zone A, Zone B, Zone C. I think that we forget the family too much in the administrative management of the transport and I think we can say it calmly.
All in all, this Easter holiday means shorter trips, especially to family ?
Basically, we don’t go away at Easter, to put it simply, there are still 3.5 million families who have a second home and often celebrate Easter in their second home. First of all, there are two models of second homes, there are those that are, for example, two hours from a city, for Paris it is Burgundy, Normandy, then second homes, the ski studio, by the sea, these are two very different models.
I’m talking about second homes, the very large suburbs of Marseille, the Luberon, the Alpilles, the Haut-Var, the Verdon, the same goes for Lyon and of course the big cities. These people there are doing Easter in their second home, but otherwise the others stay at home and actually buy chocolate. But I’ll tell you honestly, I think a lot of people eat chocolate without really knowing where this tradition comes from.