Bells Are Winging

April 2, 2024

The boys had a terrific Easter, complete with two egg hunts (at church and in our backyard) and a big Easter basket. Mister E. Bunny was scarcely mentioned by either of our goody recipients. I think it’s because at their ages (Peter is 7 ½ and Aiden is almost 10), belief in a giant, candy distributing rabbit is becoming a bit strained. At least for the Seyfrieds, faith in the bun and the tooth fairy (we named ours Dentina) are the first to go, with Santa still hanging on for just a few more years. 

We had company for dinner, Ya-Jhu’s best friend Mike (who has become a good friend of ours). Mike is also a classical composer; his partner Don is a doctor. They live in center city Philly, and they own a house in the French countryside. Anyway, Mike and I were chatting about Easter in France, and he mentioned that over there, while there are sweets aplenty, the chocolate eggs are NOT distributed by some cwazy wabbit. Instead, the treats are brought by flying bells (les cloches volantes). Naturellement!

What? That’s nutty as the bunny! you may say.  Not so fast! The legend has it that, since church bells are silent between Maundy Thursday and early Easter morning, it means that the bells have sprouted wings and flown to Rome. They carry with them the grief of everyone who mourns Jesus' death. The bells then return from the Vatican to France Sunday dawn, now laden with candy, which they scatter around outdoors. After that task is completed, they peal joyously once more, a signal for the faithful flock to head to church to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. 

I like this version for two reasons (three, actually, if you count that I’m a real Francophile in general).  For one, the whole shebang is triggered by actual happenings (church bells that stop ringing). I honestly have no clue why a huge cottontail suddenly hops into action over here. Then there’s the bells-as-grief-bearers part. It’s a melodious symbol that I find extremely comforting. I love the image of beautiful bells winging their way to Italy with their (our) burdens, and coming back Easter morning, light and singing and joyfully leaving chocolate for us. 

I doubt a fanciful story about flying bells would get much traction in the USA; we are much too conditioned to spread the word about Peter (not SAINT Peter) Rabbit. Also, Easter in America has a distinctly non-religious connotation, in addition to its spiritual significance, and I think that’s fine. Spring is a wonderful thing to celebrate, however we do it (Easter began, after all, as a pagan observance). I don’t need magical bunnies bearing calories, to rejoice at the welcome rebirth in nature. And I certainly don’t conflate my personal religious observance with egg hunts and the like—just as I don’t mix Santa up with Baby Jesus. I understand the difference, of course.

I hope that everyone had a lovely Easter (sacred, secular). Ooh, la la!


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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