Laughter

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Laughter

Laughter may seem an inappropriate Easter symbol and custom to contemporary Christians. Yet up until the eighteenth century churches throughout central Europe rang with laughter on Easter Sunday. In order to evoke this mirth clergymen preached humorous sermons, told funny stories, or recited amusing poems. These jolly Ostermärlein, or Easter fables, contained moral teachings as well. The resulting laughter dispelled the somber mood which had prevailed throughout Lent and ushered in the joyful season of Easter. The hilarity also celebrated Christ's defeat of the devil and his victory over death.

The practice of eliciting Easter laughter began during the Middle Ages, reaching the height of its popularity between the fourteenth and the eighteenth centuries. The custom became so popular that printers issued several compilations of Easter fables during that era. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, religious reformers began to criticize the practice. Eventually their viewpoint prevailed and people began to view Easter fables and Easter laughter as inappropriate and irreverent. The custom of celebrating Easter with laughter finally died out sometime between the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Further Reading

Russ, Jennifer M. German Festivals and Customs. London, England: Oswald Wolff, 1982. Weiser, Francis X. The Easter Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.

Laughter

Democritus
(c. 460—c. 370 B.C.) the laughing philosopher. [Gk. Phil.: Jobes, 430]
hyena
rapacious scavenger, known for its maniacal laughter. [Zoology: Misc.]
laughing gas
(nitrous oxide) sweet-smelling, colorless gas; produces feeling of euphoria. [Medicine: Misc.]
Thalia
Muse of comedy [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1071]
References in classic literature ?
Oh, 'twas awfully funny," I replied, beginning to giggle myself; "it will make you roar;" and I told it them.
But the subject so survived all day, nevertheless, that Miss Ferdinand got into new trouble by surreptitiously clapping on a paper moustache at dinner-time, and going through the motions of aiming a water-bottle at Miss Giggles, who drew a table-spoon in defence.
I was," Jim went on with a boastful, nervous giggle.
No girl that ever lived should giggle at him, much less lock him up like a small child.
When, on a morning, my unconscious carcass was disentangled from the nets on the drying-frames, whither I had stupidly, blindly crawled the night before; and when the water- front talked it over with many a giggle and laugh and another drink, I was proud indeed.
I must be going home," said Varenka, getting up, and again she went off into a giggle.
The boy could only point to the window, and reply with a stifled giggle, expressive of such intense enjoyment, that Quilp clutched him by the throat and might have carried his threat into execution, or at least have made very good progress towards that end, but for the boy's nimbly extricating himself from his grasp, and fortifying himself behind the nearest post, at which, after some fruitless attempts to catch him by the hair of the head, his master was obliged to come to a parley.
Pitts & Giggles, part of the Orlando hotel's Crimson Tavern restaurant, serves award-winning meats, sides and desserts; chef shares recipe for popular BBQ sauce
I once had a fit of giggles in the middle of a school assembly.
GAME FOR A LAUGH Prince Charles had Brucie and Wilnelia in fits of giggles in royal box ANDY Murray had some proper VIPs dropping in on him at Wimbledon yesterday - his grandparents.
The next night, the ladies indulge in a smoke and get the giggles, right up to the point where they get arrested.
A year on, after lots of fun and giggles the list was complete.