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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 periodicals archive ?
Laughter therapy considered as one of the additional methods for the enhancement of good health and in treatment of illnesses.
As a means of relieving stress and bringing fun into the day-to-day lives of residents, laughter therapy sessions have been introduced at Pendine Park in Wrexham.
Maybe those offended by Gervais' gigs could get some laughter therapy to learn how to have fun.
As well as a wide range of exhibitors, there will be a number of workshops where visitors can try out a range of activities, including laughter therapy, tribal dancing, meditation, Henna art and Pilates.
Therapies include macrobiotic counselling, Tai Chi, acupuncture, oriental diagnosis, laughter therapy, Chinese medicine and Shiatsu.
Laughter therapy encourages gloomy patients to mimic a chuckle in the throat, then the lungs and stomach until they literally force out a belly laugh.
Laughter therapy has been proven to alleviate the symptoms of some physical ailments, she said.
It's not a book just for the sci-fi buff, but a book for anyone who just wants to kill a few hours with laughter therapy.
Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny by Annette Goodheart (Andrew J.
His laughter therapy centers around forced laughter, deep breathing and specific, yoga-based stretches.