Good Friday and Easter, Christ's crucification and resurrection, are the highest holidays in the Christian churches and celebrated with festive sevices and masses. The Catholic churches usually have an Easter night mass at 23.00 or midnight on Saturday, while most Protestant churches do a morning service at sunrise on Sunday.
To most people, however, Christmas is far more important. Easter means just a welcome long weekend to many. The Easter holidays are peak travel time.
In case you are touring Germany over Easter, take into consideration that Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday are all public holidays.
Painting Eggs for Easter Decoration
Kids' fun and even some artisans' business: painted eggshells to put up in easter bouquets and trees. Real eggs are preferred to make decorations. Households, especially those with kids, are busy collecting blown-out eggshells. To have enough for the painting orgy one has to start collecting weeks in advance whenever a cake or scrambled eggs are being made.
To obtain an empty but whole eggshell, take a pin and make a hole of 3-5 mm diameter at the top and the bottom of the raw egg. (I prefer washing the eggs first, taking into consideration through which exit they have first seen the light of day.) Hold the pierced egg above a bowl, press your mouth to the top hole and blow. The interior ends up in the bowl and can be used for cooking purposes, only for recipes that do not require separation of the yolk from the white of course.
The eggshell can then be painted or otherwise decorated. Painting works best if the eggshell is set upon a wooden skewer to hold it. Water colours do not stay on eggshells but any other kind of paint will work. To hang the eggs onto the twigs, take a piece of a match or toothpick, about 1.5 - 2 cms long, tie a thread around it, and insert the piece of wood into the top hole of the eggshell.
Artificial decorated eggs made of wood, styropor, plastic and whatever are on sale everywhere so if you don't feel 'crafty' there are enough cheap and easy options to decorate your Easter bouquet. At least the twigs, however, have to be real. An easter bouquet consists of either forsythia or cherry twigs that start blooming soon in the warm house, or birch, willow or hazel twigs that sprout little green leaves. Garden owners often decorate a tree or bush outside with colourful plastic eggs.
Artisans have discovered the egg as an object. There are really artistic techniques, also traditional patterns in certain regions. Batik, for example, or scratching (eggshell painted in dark colour and patterns scratched into the layer of paint). Some placeshave specialized arts and crafts markets for Easter. The Sorbs in the Lausitz region are particularly famous for their Easter traditions.
Easter fountains 2017 in Karlsruhe-Daxlanden
Osterbrunnen - Easter Fountains
Decorating the fountains during the Holy Week is a custom that is most popular in Franconia. The fountains are decorated with green garlands and painted eggs. The largest and most famous Easter fountains can be found in Bieberbach and Heiligenstadt. In recent years the custom has been spreading to other parts of Bavaria and other regions in Germany, for example Saxony, Palatine, Saarland. They have in the meantime also appeared in some villages around Karlsruhe, where my photos have been taken.
This rather young custom was created in the late 19th/early 20th century. Do not believe anyone sho tries to tell you that it has pagan, pre-Christian Germanic or Slavic origins in a cult about springs. It does not. This misinterpretation is, just like the equally wrong interpretation of the carnival/Fastnacht as a pagan tradition, a child of the 1920s when Germanic mythology was so much en vogue. Unfortunately authors and tour guides still keep telling us so, although none of them can provide the slightest proof for their theory, and you'll read it on the tourist offices' websites, too.
Anyway, these fountains are a beautiful sight and can be enjoyed as what they are, a festive decoration that values the source of water which is so essential for any living creature. There is probably a relation to the cleaning of the fountains in spring.
Osterhase - the Easter Bunny
According to legends the Osterhase is the one who delivers the Easter eggs. He comes at night or in the earliest morning, sneaks into houses and gardens and hides eggs, sweets or little gifts. Kids watch out to see him but they will never be successful. Spotting a quick movement from the corner of an eye is all anyone will ever see of him... There is an easy and obvious answer to the old question if the hen or the egg had been there first: the egg, of course, it was delivered by the Osterhase!
The original German Osterhase is a hare, not a bunny (rabbit), a different species. Illustrations in old and nostalgic children's books show him as a big lean hare, a fast runner, strong enough to carry a big basket full of eggs. In other countries, and recently also here, he has been turned into a cuddly fluffy bunny.
Chocolate hare/bunny figures come in all sizes and are popular gifts. Shop windows are full of them. Some stores even claim the Osterhase shops at their place...
Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter Bunny is said to bring easter eggs, candy and little gifts during the night and early morning of Easter Sunday. Easter eggs can be real hard-boiled eggs dyed or painted on the outside. Chocolate eggs are more popular, though. Then there are empty cardboard eggs to be filled with a little present.
These eggs are hidden in the house or, if available and weather permitting, in the garden. First thing in the morning the kids will grab a little basket and hurry searching for them - if the adults insist on having breakfast first, be prepared for a family fight...
Leftover chocolate eggs will be the delight of the family dog later on. If the kids haven't found them, the dog surely will.
Hint, from experience: Do not hide chocolate eggs with liquid filling inside someone's boots, the owner may find them too late, i.e. when putting the shoe on. This leads to unpleasant effects... *giggle*
Easter egg (and bunny) hunt, 1972
P.S. I didn't even remember that dress! Fancy! A bit short already, though...