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. Here in Germany we celebrate a mix of old and new traditions and I'd like to introduce you to some of them. Maybe you will find some of them in your own culture as well.
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.
Till now we paint real chicken eggs or plastic eggs to hang them into the trees. To prepare the eggs you just have to pick two holes in the shell of the egg
(it works great with nails) and then blow the inside out. From the edible part we make scrabled eggs or a dish called Bauernfrühstück. Some people collect easter eggs over the years and after
decades you can see hundreds of Easter eggs hanging on a tree. In the days before Easter you can see so many beautiful Easter trees in Germany! On Easter Sunday we also colour hard boiled eggs
and hide them, so the cildren have to seek for it.
As I am vegan I prefer to use paper eggs as decoration and eat scambled tofu. Give it a try! It is really delicious.
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. Of course all shops are cloed, so people prefer to meet their falily or friends in the park or go out on walks. Sometimes there are also restrictions to sell alcohol and there won’t be any parties. On this day Christians here 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. Most Easter fires are managed by the local fire department and the fire fighters sell some drinks and snacks for charity. Unfortunately many animals die from those fires, because the wood is collected over weeks or even months and in some cases it won't be rearranged. So the animals, which hide inside the wood don't come out.
Easter Sunday is the most important day. Most Christians 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. 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.
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. The lamb is also quite popular and symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus, but also purity and the peaceful way of life (how ironic to eat it). You can find lots of lamb-formed cakes in bakeries during Easter time. Another typical food for easter is carrot cake.
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.
Do you celebrate Easter? Tell me how! I'm curious about all the different traditions all around the world. I know it's not easy these days, but I'm sure we can all have our very own special celebrations.