Once again we have had a great week sharing with our students all about the different Easter traditions in Spain, France and Germany. Whether it’s Semana Santa (Holy week) in Sevilla or cloches-volantes (flying bells) in France, there are so many differences in the way we all celebrate at this time of year.
Teaching the children in school about the different Easter traditions is particularly fun! In France, church bells are a big part of the celebrations. It is said that on the Thursday before Easter the bells leave the churches and fly away to Rome to visit the Pope and to be involved in remembering the crucifixion and the Easter story. On the morning of Easter Sunday they fly back to France and drop Easter eggs into the gardens on the way. The children then wake up excited to get out into the garden and see if they can find the eggs. Le lapin de Paques (Easter bunny) also drops off Easter eggs for the children and children sometimes build nests in the garden the day before. There are obviously some comparisons here between our celebrations and those in France but the bells is a new one for us!
Easter celebrations in Spain are very different. Semana Santa (Holy week) sees a week of processions re-telling the key events in the Easter story. These processions really are a sight to be seen, particularly in Seville where the streets are packed with people watching the processions go past. The robes and capirotes (conical shaped hats) that the nazarenos (participants in the procession) wear are always a point for discussion and it’s fascinating for the children to see how different the celebrations in Spain can be.
As well as looking at the cultural side of learning a language, Easter is a great opportunity to widen vocabulary, practise dictionary skills and think about phonics and how to use them in new words. Some of the year 6 children we teach have written poems in French or Spanish about Easter celebrations.
Of course, it’s not just the children who like to find out about celebrations abroad. As Easter marks the end of our latest 10 week course for Intermediate and Advanced Spanish, the two classes met together last night for tapas. Everyone enjoyed practising their language skills with our waitress and ordering their food and drinks in Spanish.