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 periodicals archive ?
uk/ Chance would be a fine thing for Mr Titter, still more a gay acorn than a gay icon, despite occasional guesting on Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show (another acquired taste).
Worried that Howerd would titter not at the public traipsing through his bits and pieces?
Apparently, ceilidh bands who announce that the next dance will be the Gay Gordons have been met by titters from dancers who get the wrong idea.
Some people might titter at the case of Bernadette Smith we report today and think it is not that big a deal.
Now every time he walks down a corridor in Westminster people will snigger and titter while making two-inch air drawings with their fingers.
He added: 'The Gay Gordons can raise a titter if the audience are not familiar with Scottish country dancing and, in order to avoid a cheap joke, it is switched.
TRAVEL OFFER Festive Laugh & Titter Weekend in Blackpool Departs 6 December 2013 3 days from Get away to Blackpool for a weekend of festive fun and laughter with nightly comedy entertainment plus the chance to enjoy a pint of bitter or glass of wine at just PS1.
THEATRE Aladdin, Liverpool Empire, above, until January 2, 0844 847 2525; Sleeping Beauty, Everyman, until January 22, 151 709 4776; Scouse Pacific, Royal Court, until January 8, 0870 787 1866; No Wise Men, Liverpool Playhouse, until January 15, 0151 709 4776; Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, St Helens Theatre Royal, until January 9, 01744 756000; The Red Shoes, The Unity, until January 22, 0844 873 2888; Terry Titter, The Unity, until December 18, 0844 873 2888; Aladdin, Southport Theatre, until January 2, 0844 847 2380; Aladdin, The Brindley, Runcorn, until January 9, 0151 907 8360; A Christmas Carol, Liverpool Lantern Theatre, until December 24, 0151 703 0000.
Hats off then to all those shops putting the comedy back in commerce by helping to raise a titter, despite the rising price of goods.
At a Beryl Cook show, we were as amused by the viewers as the cartoons, solemnly studying each one without a smile, let alone a titter.
It's a quaint old notion used by anyone who has a titter of it.
In the first he gets into drag as two females Renee and Brenda, for the second he's a full-on gay chap and finally Titter himself in a loud, yellow, oversized jacket.