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As we know Germans know how to celebrate and Easter is no exception to the traditional crafting, baking & family centred festivities that make us love German culture so much.
Celebrating Easter the German way means spending the lead up to Easter preparing food and decorations for the celebration held on Easter Sunday. It should come as no surprise that German Easter traditions have been adopted elsewhere in the world just like their famous Christmas celebrations. Let’s dive in and look into the history of easter and its celebrations in Europe and what a typical traditional German Easter would entail.
Download your very own German Easter Traditions check list below!
The 4 day Easter weekend (Good Friday (Karfreitag), Easter Saturday (Ostersamstag), Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag)) is determined by the moon cycles. Accurately it is the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the vernal Equinox.
Easter is held in Spring in the northern hemisphere and many of the traditions stem from Earth’s rebirth from the end of the dark cold winter. For those who did Lent it celebrates the end of ‘going without’ which for many are sweet things, hence the provision of a hefty amount of sweets at easter!
The egg was a symbol of rebirth in Christianity but has also stood for fertility and renewal since the ancient Greeks. Painting wooden or hard boiled eggs has been a popular German Easter tradition for many centuries. Children are often involved in the painting, hiding and hunting for Easter eggs at Easter time. The painted Easter eggs are used over Easter for many different traditions and celebrations such as hanging in trees (see more about Osterbaum bellow), the famous egg run and decorating the dining table.
But where did the easter bunny come from? The Easter rabbit (der Osterhase) was first mentioned by Georg Franck von Franckenau in 1682 who wrote a book called “De ovis paschalibus – von Oster-Eyern”. This is the first time a rabbit was used in the tale of hiding easter eggs for the children. Interestingly the Germans also used other animals (up until the early 1800’s) such cuckoo birds, foxes and chickens to hide the eggs. Biscuits and breads in the shape of rabbits were soon followed, in the 20th century, by hollow chocolate easter bunnies which are still a crowd pleaser at easter today.
Just like Christmas and the Germans history of creating Christmas Trees (Tannenbaum), Easter also has its own symbolic tree (Osterbaum). German traditionally hang decorated eggs from the branches of a living tree making an enchanting decoration in the garden and community parks. You can also take a branch into your home and decorate this with easter eggs tied up with ribbon. The eggs used are either wooden, plastic or hollow egg shells that have all been painted with bright colours.
We decorated our own Easter tree this year at The German Village Shop in Hahndorf!
As we know water is essential to life and the Germans made sure to honour it by decorating there fountains at Easter time. They would often also clean the town wells as they came into spring. It was said that Easter water had healing properties and were used for all sorts of superstitious rituals like sprinkling water onto your eyes for good eye sight. The symbol of water and fertility goes deeper into older traditions where young women on easter morning would go to the local stream or well to collect water to sprinkle on her lover in hope of a wedding soon! This has transitioned into drinking Schnapps (Osterwasser) on easter morning with your friends!
Lamb Cake (See link to recipe below)
Lambs are symbolic in christian culture and represent humility and innocents. Often lamb cake or lamb bread is baked to eat on easter Sunday as well as a lamb roast.
Click on the button below to see our Lamb Bread recipe!
They were often home made with different chocolate and moulds but otherwise local brands like kinder and Lindt chocolate made a perfect choice!
Short bread biscuits: Recipe coming soon!!
A yeast based plaited bread traditionally with raisins (not too dissimilar to our hot cross buns!) is served on Easter Sunday.