Easter in Germany 2018: Typical Traditions and Facts

easter in germany

Easter 2018 Germany | 2018 Easter Sunday | Germany at Easter | Easter Customs in Germany

When is easter in Germany? Easter this year takes place between March 22 and April 25 in countries all over the world. Easter celebration in Germany not only means a church visit with the family, but also a lot of Easter eggs, the traditional easter tree and delicious German easter food. Find out more about easter traditions in Germany.

Why is easter celebrated?

On Holy Thursday, Christians celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. The following Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross, on Holy Saturday is peace of the grave and on the third day, Easter Sunday, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is celebrated (Resurrection Sunday).

Is easter celebrated in Germany? Does Germany celebrate easter?

Yes. Around 55-60 % of the population in Germany are Christians.

Is Good Friday a holiday in Germany?

Yes. Good Friday is a public holiday in Germany.

Is Easter monday a holiday in Germany?

Yes. Easter Monday is a public holiday in Germany.

How is Easter celebrated in Germany?

German Easter Lamb (Cake)

Even though, people in Germany celebrate Christmas on a larger scale than Easter, old and young love to follow their traditions – especially when it comes to food. Germans like their traditional German easter food which includes a lot of meat such as lamb on Sunday for Easter dinner or fish on Good Friday as well as sweets such as cakes (for example the German easter lamb cake), biscuits or the traditional Hefezopf ( = yeast plate).

Why do Christians eat fish on Good Friday? Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. People don’t celebrate this day, but – according to Christian belief – commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Good Friday is seen as a very strict day of fasting. Very religious people only eat a meal on this day and two little snacks. Meat is forbidden. 

German Easter Egg Search

Whats behind the Easter egg? Since pre-Christian times, the egg symbolizes the emergence of new life and rebirth. In the early Christian era, an egg as a symbol for the resurrection, was placed in every grave. The dead and inanimate shell conceals and surrounds the new life, the chick. The Christian Church connects this with the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. During the Holy Week, the last week before Easter Sunday, Christians were forbidden to eat eggs. These were collected, kept and decorated with beautiful colors, to consecrate them on the day of Easter Sunday (the day after the resurrection of Jesus as Christ according to Christian belief), and solemnly devour them. This custom has been preserved until today and has developed into the well-known “Easter eggs”.

People can buy the typical German Easter eggs in every supermarket in the weeks before Easter, but most people like to paint them on their own. Especially children like to do the traditional Easter egg search on grassland which often includes hard-boiled eggs as well as chocolate eggs and other little gifts.

German Easter Bunny Origin | What is the Easter Bunny?

In contrast to Christmas, people in Germany don’t usually gift each other on Easter. For children however, most parents make an exception and “invite” the Easter bunny.

Where did the easter bunny come from? The rabbit, just like the egg, has been a symbol of fertility and the emergence of life since the pre Christian era. For example, a rabbit can bring up to 20 youngsters a year. In addition, Easter is the feast of spring and the rabbit is considered as the herald of spring. In connection with Easter eggs, the hare is first mentioned in 1682. The symbiosis of eggs and rabbits and the origin of the myth of the Easter bunny (Easter bunny story), which painted eggs and hide them, is not yet completely clear. One possible hint goes back to the Middle Ages: at that time, it was a pity to settle up his debts shortly before Easter. These were often repayed in the form of goods, customary were hares or eggs. 

German Easter Tree | Osterbaum in Germany

In the weeks before Easter, people in Germany like to decorate trees in their gardens with colorful eggs, often made out of plastic or small charms – same as the Christmas market during the time of Christmas, the Easter Tree is a typical German tradition which is especially admired in neighboring countries. One of the best known examples is the “Saalfelder Ostereierbaum” (Easter egg tree Germany in Saalfeld), which has transformed the private garden of a Thuringian family into a worldwide famous tourist attraction. Since 1965, the Krafts from Saalfeld decorate their apple tree every year with their own – around 10.000 – painted chicken eggs. The “Saalfelder Ostereierbaum” regularly attracts several thousand visitors from all over the world.

German Easter Fire

Same as the Easter bunny, the Easter fire goes back on a pre-Christian custom. With the Easter fire, the evil winter spirits are said to be expelled and the spring gets greeted – a pagan ritual from the Middle Ages. Unlike today, it was important for many people that the cold season remained as short as possible. In times of heating and supply by the supermarket, the tradition has remained the same, because today most people still look forward to spring, warmer temperatures and more daylight. 

Areas like Bavaria, where a large number of the population are Catholic Christians, also have their own special traditions such as Eierwerfen ( = egg throwing). The eggs are traditionally put into a wool sack and hurled in a meadow or pasture. The litter is repeated until the egg shell is broken, then a person is eliminated. The winner is the one, whose egg remains the longest and can throw the most.

Featured image: Easter Lamb as a cakeSebastian Wallroth Wikimedia – CC BY 3.0

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