Last year we spent the Easter holidays in Germany and I tried to give them a little Latvian touch by coloring the eggs Latvian style. As this year we’re celebrating Easter in Latvia, I suppose it’s only fitting that I write about German Easter traditions instead.
The long Easter weekend can feel a bit quiet in Germany as, except for Saturday, everything from offices to shops is closed and the public transport operates on a holiday schedule. But this quietness is filled with plenty of family time and some quite interesting traditions. What exactly? Read further to find out!
Celebrating a German Easter
In the weeks before Easter shops fill with little pots of bright yellow spring flowers and you can spot “Easter trees” everywhere. These are either branches (in the case of stores and other businesses) or small trees and bushes (by people’s homes) that are decorated with brightly colored eggs. The decorations can either be real, hollowed out eggs or eggs made from plastic and other materials. I love the sight of the cheerful Easter trees among the grayness that is so common to the North German spring.
Based on my observations, the German Easter celebration is less about real eggs and more about eggs made from chocolate, marzipan, and the like. These, along with an abundance of all sorts of bunny and egg shaped sweets, appear in the stores as soon as the Christmas treats have cleared the shelves.
Probably unsurprisingly, on the morning of Easter Sunday German kids hunt for chocolate Easter eggs. The eggs are brought by the Easter Bunny and usually hidden outside around trees and bushes. I wonder if me and my siblings would’ve been more motivated during our childhood Easter egg hunts had we been searching for chocolate eggs instead of the real ones…
Amidst the overflow of candy everywhere you look it’s easy to forget that the days leading up the Easter are the fasting period, particularly observed in the catholic regions. Accordingly, the traditional food on Good Friday is fish.
After the egg hunt on Sunday morning, most families have a big Easter lunch or dinner and the main dish is supposed to be lamb. One can even buy cakes in the shape of lamb or bunny!
In the weeks around Easter many German towns hold Easter Markets where one can buy everything from spring and Easter-themed decorations to beautifully decorated Easter eggs, both edible and not. In some places like Bremen and Hamburg Easter markets can take the form of weeks long fun fairs with rides and treats for any taste.
Another fun German Easter tradition are Easter bonfires that usually take place either on the night of Easter Sunday or the day before. The bonfires are lit to welcome the spring and the sun, likely a custom older than Christianity itself. Nowadays the bonfires often organized by local volunteer fire brigades and, traditionally, at least part of the wood used for the fires are old Christmas trees.
Happy Easter everybody!
Explore the diverse traditions of Easter around the world with us, and don’t miss our series from last year and this wonderful overview of global Easter traditions. You can also find these posts and more on our Easter Around the World Pinterest board:
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