HOW TO: Celebrate Easter in Germany

Picture by Shirui Cheng
Picture by Shirui Cheng

Easter is one of the most popular holidays in Germany. After a cold and dark winter, it celebrates the spring and Jesus Christ's resurrection, according to the Christian Bible. A lot of Easter traditions are much older than Christianity, so they were adapted or forbidden by the church. Buts some of these traditions were continued in the hidden, like painting Easter eggs and giving them to others.

Painting Easter Eggs

In the weeks prior to Easter we paint some eggs in Germany. You can find this tradition in a lot of countries and it is a great tradition in Russia and Armenia too. Where this tradition comes from is not absolutely clear but I found an interesting explanation for you.

 

Hundreds of years ago when Christianity wasn’t so popular in Germany, people from the church came to this country and tried to eradicate paganism. At this time Germans weren’t so happy about rules and following them, they were real rebels. Before Germany was evangelized, Ostara was celebrated in spring. Our German word for Easter is Ostern, by the way. A tradition for this celebration was to give colored eggs to your friends, which was forbidden by the Christian church. To continue this ritual, the followers have not given the eggs personally, but the eggs were buried and hidden in the fields of friends and family.

On Easter day we paint boiled eggs and give them to others as a present. This eggs will be eaten, so normally they just have one color. Other eggs are mouth-blown and decorated delicately, which could end up on an Ester tree. You can find lots of Easter trees in Germany with many eggs hanging on them.

Four Days of Easter

In Germany there are four important days during Easter. The first one is Good Friday (Karfreitag), which is a quiet day, with no music and no dancing. Sometimes there are also restrictions to sell alcohol and there won’t be any parties. On this day we traditionally eat fish in Germany.

 

On Saturday there will be some Ester markets and in Northern Germany we light up Ester bonfires in the evening. These fires should chase away the darkness and welcome the spring. This is also s good opportunity to get rid of dead plats and your old Christmas tree.

Easter Sunday is the most important day. Most People go to church on this day and celebrate together with family and friends. In the morning parents hide baskets with Easter eggs, chocolate and little presents for children, who will seek for them. After coming back from church most family have lunch, traditionally consisting of lamb, potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes there will even be asparagus on the tables.

 

Easter Monday is the last day of these holidays. Like on Sunday most shops, businesses and banks are closed. Of course there are church services, but we normally don’t have special celebrations on this day.

 

German kids believe that the Easter bunny comes to hide the baskets with eggs and chocolate. The bunny symbolizes fertility and life. He is so popular, that we also have several chocolate versions of it. The first chocolate Easter bunnies were produced in Germany in the 19th century.

 

The lamb is also quite popular and symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus, but also purity and the peaceful way of life. You can find lots of lamb-formed cakes in bakeries during Easter time.

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