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German Easter Traditions

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Easter traditions  in Germany are similar to those found in other predominantly Christian countries, from the religious commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the ever  so popular Osterhase. See below for a closer look at some of Germany's customs of rebirth and renewal. (Photos @ Wiki)

Easter Bonfires

Many people gather around large bonfires reaching several meters high on the eve of Easter Sunday. Often the wood of old Christmas trees is used for this occasion.
This German custom is actually an old pagan ritual dating back to before Christ to symbolize the coming of spring. Back then it was believed that any home or field shone upon by the light of the fire would be protected from sickness and misfortune.

Der Osterhase

This hopping Easter creature is believed to originate from Germany. The first known account of der Osterhase is found in the 1684 notes of a Heidelberg professor of medicine, where he discusses the ill-effects of overeating Easter eggs. German and Dutch settlers later brought the notion of der Osterhase or  Oschter Haws (dutch) to the U.S. in the 1700's.

Der Osterfuchs and other Easter Egg Deliverers

 In some  parts of Germany and Switzerland, children waited for der Osterfuchs instead. Children would hunt for his yellow Fuchseier on Easter morning which were dyed with yellow onion skins. Other Easter egg deliverers in German-speaking countries included, the Easter rooster (Saxony),  the stork (Thuringia) and the Easter chick. Unfortunately  in the past several decades these animals have found themselves with continual less delivery jobs as der Osterhase has gained more wide-spread fame.

Der Osterbaum

It's only in recent years that I've seen miniature Easter trees being sold in North America. This Easter tradition from Germany is probably my favorite. Beautifully decorated Easter eggs are hung on branches in a vase in the home or on trees outside adding a splash of colour to spring's palette.

Das Gebackene Osterlamm

This delicious baked cake in the form of a lamb is a sought-after treat during Easter season. Whether made simply, such as with Hefeteig (yeast dough) only or with a rich creamy filling in the center, either way the Osterlamm is always a hit with kids. You can find a great assortment of Easter lamb cake recipes at Osterlammrezepte.
See more on Traditional German Easter recipes.

Das Osterrad

This custom is practiced in a few regions in northern Germany. For this tradition, hay is stuffed into a large wooden wheel, then lighted and rolled down a hill at nighttime. A long wooden pole pulled through the wheel's axle helps it keep its balance. If the wheel reaches all the way to the bottom intact, then a good harvest is predicted. The city of Lügde in Weserbergland prides itself as being the Osterradstadt, since it has followed this tradition yearly for over a thousand years.

Osterspiele (Easter Games)

Rolling eggs down a hill is also tradition in Germany and other German-speaking countries, found in games such as Ostereierschieben and Eierschibbeln.

Der Ostermarkt

Just like Germany's wonderful Weihnachtsmärkte, its Ostermärkte also can't be beat. A stroll through a German Easter market will tantalize your tastebuds and delight your eyes as artisans, artists and chocolatiers showcase their Easter art and treats.
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