Staplehurst Bellringers Article April 2022
Flying Bells & Chocolate Eggs!
By Rebecca Steele
When the Parish Magazine goes to print, the end of Lent will be in sight. Any Villagers who are still keeping to their Lenten abstentions, whether for religious or health reasons, will by now be eager to unwrap their chocolate Easter eggs or quench their thirst with that much-anticipated pint of beer. Easter is a symbol of hope, renewal and new life both for Christians and those of us who look forward to spring days, more sunshine and leaving the short days of winter behind us.
It may seem strange to us, but, across Europe, there is a tradition that it is the responsibility of the church bells rather than the Easter Bunny to deliver and hide Easter eggs for the children. Before watches, clocks and mobile phones were common, the church bells would mark the passing of time and inform villages of important events occurring. The bells would call the Church goers to prayer, announce holidays and significant events and warn people of disaster. The passing of life and seasons would be marked by the sound of the bells and their sound would provide background sound to all village life.
The Catholic Church has a tradition that the bells stop ringing on Maundy Thursday, three days prior to Easter Sunday, to mourn the death of Jesus. In France, the Netherlands and Belgium, Easter is a time to celebrate the cloches volants, or the “flying bells.” The legend is, that during this time, the bells fly away from their steeples and flee to Rome in their sorrow. On Easter morning, after receiving a blessing from the pope, the bells fly back home, filled with joy and along the way the bells drop treats for children. On Easter day, parents call out “les cloches sont passées” (the bells have passed by) and the children run out in search of eggs.
Many Church of England bell towers continue this Catholic tradition and their bells are silent during Holy Week, ringing again on Easter Day. I think it unlikely that someone wouldn’t have noticed All Saints’ bells flying all the way to Rome but I have also never seen a large rabbit scattering the beautifully coloured chocolate eggs around the garden. If you do find any chocolate eggs around Staplehurst and wonder just how they could have arrived then maybe the church bells flying overhead are another option to consider.
If you are interested in finding out more about bell ringing, then Staplehurst Bell Ringers practice on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 pm until 9:00 pm at All Saints’ Church. Please do come along to the tower or get in contact if you would like to find out more.
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