Easter is a big celebration in Germany, with many traditions similar to Ireland, including the chocolate egg hunt, and lamb for the family meal on Easter Sunday. Have you heard of an Easter tree, Easter bonfire or Easter fountain? These lesser known traditions, and German customs are what we will be discussing in this week’s blog, as well as the hidden treasure of the Easter bunny originating in Germany!
Easter Trees or Osterbaum- similar to a Christmas tree, Germans decorate live trees outside their homes and businesses with decorative eggs hanging on ribbons. The eggs can be plastic, wooden, or real painted eggs. These festive favourites brighten up the streets, and add a special atmosphere for children and adults alike.
Painting Easter eggs- this is an older tradition that often goes hand in hand with the Easter tree, where children decorate real eggs to hang. The oldest surviving decorative egg dates back to the 4th century where it was found near Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate. Have you ever decorated eggs, real or chocolate ones?
Easter Fountain- this tradition can be found in the Bavarian region, where wells are cleaned for spring and decorated with garlands, ribbons and of course decorative eggs to celebrate Easter. It is believed this tradition dates back to 1909 to a town called Aufseß, Franconia, where water was scarce, and the decoration was a symbol of celebration and thanks. The biggest display of beauty and admiration for Easter fountains can be found in Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz) where 200 towns decorate their fountains, see the great picture below.
Easter Bonfire or Osterfeuer- the Easter fire or bonfire is a sign of renewal, and a welcoming of spring in Germany. This tradition was associated with Christianty and Jesus, and was lit on Good Friday and extinguished on Easter Sunday. Nowadays this ritual is more modern, and has become part of local festivals and community activities. Due to covid-19 restrictions and safety, many people light candles in their homes for these few days, still marking an important tradition for Germans all over the world.
Easter egg hunt- we can’t speak about Easter without discussing the Easter tradition of hiding real and chocolate eggs for children to find on Easter Sunday. This ritual is said to be from Germany with many theories on how the ‘Osterhase’ Easter Bunny hides the eggs as gifts. One theory suggests that hundreds of years ago,Duchess Rosilinda von Lindenberg fled her town with her children to hide from war, and found shelter in a small village in the mountains. The poor villagers shared what they had with her, and in return she bought them chickens. At Easter time she painted the eggs and hid them for the children to find as gifts. Legend says that a rabbit/hare was wandering around as the children looked, so they believed the rabbit was the one who gave them the Easter surprise. Did you know in some regions there was also the Easter fox and crane who delivered eggs?
There are many great German customs and traditions around holidays, all based around community, family and celebrating what you have. Spend Easter in Germany next year and be part of local traditions with GermanMind. Our online German classes not only teach you how to understand, read, speak German, we also teach you about the German culture, traditions and more.
This Easter we want to share some goodness with you and offer you 10% off all courses when you book this week, April 1st-6th, use code ‘learngerman’ at checkout.