Laughter

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Related to tittering: teetering on the edge

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 ?
But that hasn't stopped the chattering class from tittering about the resolution's timing and throwing out Reaganesque hypotheticals.
Egress tittering, for instance, prevents packets with "spoofed" addresses from leaving one system and attacking another.
There was a polite amount of tittering over the film screen and the arm, but Clark needs now to build on his unique talent for breaking choreographic boundaries rather than on sex if he is to retain his reputation as a revolutionary creator.
Superb acting, coupled with great sets, sound effects and costumes, had the audience tittering all the way through.
To take a local example, I've heard some rather malicious tittering around the fact that Calgary's Bishop Henry is an avid, and very able, golfer.
What torments them is fear that, as the Lewinsky business rolls on, someone, somewhere--perhaps a ten-year-old child in some long-forgotten Third World country--will cry out, "Look, the Emperor's got no trousers!" Then the tittering will begin, growing into a hearty roar, as billions of fingers point toward Washington, D.C., and billions of voices raise the question, "Is that all?"
Following on from last year's sell-out Chrimbo cracker, the inimitable entertainer is "sizzling back to base for three hot and sticky summer nights to keep you tittering through the tulips".
A PUB landlady is tittering again after a mystery thief returned her prized photo of late comedian Frankie Howerd - along with pounds 20.
I've been arguing for years that size isn't important (oh, do stop tittering at the back) and this downsizing was like a celestial slap in the mush quite frankly.