Here are some old country sayings for April, taken from the 1932 and 1933 editions of La Prosperité à la Campagne.
Avril froid donne pain et vin – April doux est le pire de tous.
A cold April gives bread and wine – Mild April is the curse of all.
Si St Marc n’est pas beau, Pas de fruits à noyaux.
If St Mark’s day (25th) isn’t nice, there will be no stone fruits (i.e. fruit with stones in e.g. plums, peaches etc).
S’il pleut en avril, il pleut sans arrêt en mai.
If it rains at all in April, it will rain non-stop in May.
En avril nuée – en mai rosée.
Cloudy in April, dewy in May.
Vent qui souffle aux Rameaux – Ne change pas de sitôt.
The wind that blows on Palm Sunday, won’t change any time soon.
I can vouch for that last one. Palm Sunday (Rameaux) was freezing here in Creuse. My son’s school had organised a Chasse d’Oeufs (Easter egg hunt) and we all got soaked and frozen. And we’re still getting soaked and frozen three days later!
There are a busy few days ahead. The first of April is poisson d’avril time. Children will be sticking paper fish on the back of every unsuspecting person they come across. Ruadhri has made a nice big shoal of them. This year we’re employing a secret weapon – Velcro! It’s much better than sticky tape.
That day is also Maundy Thursday, the day when, according to tradition, the church bells (or at the very least their chimes) fly off to the Pope in Rome to take everyone’s sadness at Christ’s suffering and crucifixion with them. They come back, all happy again, on Easter morning, bringing pretty decorated egss with them which they hide in children’s gardens. Sound like a tall story? Well, you won’t hear a bell chiming between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday so it could just be they’re not there!
Easter (Pâques) is all about chocolate here in France, as are so many things in this chocoholics’ heaven. But you won’t see many large Easter eggs, although there are plenty of small ones to be had. Thanks to the bell legend, you’ll find flocks of cloches volants (chocolate bells with wings). You’ll also come across vast quantities of chocolate rabbits and hens, and shoals of chocolate fish. These are chocolate poissons d’avril. They range from tiny friture (fish fry) to enormous multicoloured specimens. Yum.
I mentioned Ruadhri’s chilly Easter egg hunt. They’re huge over here. Many schools and organisations hold them. It’s lovely to see a field-full of happy children with bags and baskets scampering around searching for eggs. Actually, that’s what happens here regularly, but with just one child, as Ruadhri searches out our hens’ latest favourite laying spot. And he has an extra job at the moment. Our turkey has started laying eggs too, alternating between a nesting box and the middle of nowhere. It’s the first time I’ve seen one. They are magnificent affairs, elegantly tall and slim, with pretty red speckling on them. They taste just like chicken eggs but have a much tougher shell.
Have a great, chocolately Easter!