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There was a time when priests started cracking jokes, telling anecdotes, speaking in an obscene manner to entertain their audience and raise a laugh. Their indecent buffooneries transformed Easter celebrations into carnivals – some of which took on quite extreme shapes. Later, the Church persecuted those involved in this practice, but traces of it still remain in Eastern Orthodox traditions. We cannot find a single link to risus paschalis in the Scriptures, nor in the writings of the Apostles, nor even a clue in the religious practices of the first Christian generations. We laugh at the transgression of the dying and rising Christ in the same way as we laugh at the clown thrown on the ground and jumping up again. Still, the cultural history of the clown rituals is an even more contested issue. What does Christ have to do with this tradition? What epistemological qualities bind them together?
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