5 German Easter Traditions You Didn’t Know About
Frohe Ostern! Happy Easter! Ostern is German for Easter, and in Germany, Easter is not a celebration that lasts just a single day. Instead, Easter in Germany is a celebration lasts for four days, though the tradition is celebrated throughout the entire month. Karfreitag is how you say Good Friday in German. The Ostern celebration starts with Gruendonnerstag, which is Green Thursday, which segaways into Karfreitag—Good Friday, and spills over into Easter Saturday, and then on into Easter Sunday.
Gruendonnerstag, which is Green Thursday and is celebrated by eating foods that are green. A lot of what Ostern is about is the celebration of life renewed. For Germans, that is both religious and secular. Spring is the symbol of new life, growth, and babies. Green represents those traits well. The green food tradition is an excellent way to kick off what is ultimately a celebration of life.
Good Friday: Good Friday centers around the tradition of a Good Friday Lunch. The tradition here is that the meal is celebrated with fish as the main course. But the real excitement is found in the colorful and richly decorated community that transforms the last of winter into a catalyst for spring. In America, the closest thing was have to Ostern is Christmas. Picture in your mind the festivities of Easter on the same level that we celebrate Christmas. Windows are decorated, special foods and chocolates are prepared, and the community comes alive as the darker days of Winter begin to recede.
Karsamstag, which translates as Holy Saturday is Easter Saturday: Is a day that is spent in celebration of Easter. Most families spend the day admiring the decorations. Ostermarket, which is an Easter Market is a hub where people gather to enjoy Easter festivities. Ostermarket is where you find richly decorated eggs, chocolates, and Easter goodies. There is a long tradition of giving hand painted eggs away as gifts. The celebration of Easter started in Germany centuries ago.
The second tradition is the Easter Tree. Ausgeblasene Eier is German for Easter Eggs. The eggs that are hollowed out and then transformed into amazing little pieces of art that are richly decorated. The brightly painted eggs are tied to branches of trees and shrubs until the trees become joyful with color. We are more used to the Christmas Tree, but in Germany, the Easter Tree is one of the highlights of the Ostern festival.
The third tradition, also occurs on Easter Saturday. It is the Easter sweet Cake that is in the shape of a lamb. Another symbolic character of Easter. The lamb is a symbol of spring and in Christianity it represents the vulnerable. However, the true star of the show is der Osterhase, the Easter Bunny. Germany is the place that the der Osterhase was born. It is thanks to the German celebration of Easter that we have chocolate Easter bunnies. That tradition was imported from Germany to American in the 1800’s with settlers.
The fourth tradition occurs on Easter Saturday evening. Bonfires are lit as a means of defeating the spirit of Winter and heralding in the Spirit of Spring. Spring is a time when the days grow longer and the weather becomes warmer. It should not be too long after the Easter Tree is decorated that the trees leaf out and flower.
Ostersonntag, which is Easter Sunday, is the day of the Easter Egg Hunt. A tradition that is celebrated here in America, but in which we owe thanks to the German tradition. In Germany, it is the act of hiding eggs, chocolate bunnies, and candy for the kids to find. Easter services precede an Easter Lunch that is made with lamb and sweet cakes. Flowers are a big part of Ostersonntag. The entire day becomes a celebration of life. Music, dancing, and laughter are three elements that bring Ostersonntag to a crescendo.
Enjoy a German Style bed and breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire