Laughter and the Empty Tomb

March 23, 2008

There is an old tradition called the risus paschalis – the Easter laughter – dating back to at least the fifteenth century. After the sombre Lenten period the preacher was to begin his Easter Sunday sermon with a joke. The jokes often weren’t that funny and the tradition seems to  have been abused. It was banned by Pope Clement X (1670-76) and in the 18th century by Emporer Maximilian III. It doesn’t appear to have caught on with the Reformers at all. The laughter was perhaps a superficial thing, but it’s an interesting idea – a reminder of the joy that Christians should have as they remember Christ’s resurrection and the new life they have in union with their risen saviour. Death does not get the last laugh! Happy Easter.


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