Easter Traditions in Germany: Painted Eggs and Tail-Coated Horsemen
Christ’s resurrection has given us one of the most important festivals in the calendar. Easter is deeply rooted in German culture: it is a time for celebrations across the country – and the observance of a wide range of customs.
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance / dpa) Easter is a festival that children in particular look forward to, especially the Sunday when the Easter Bunny hides brightly painted eggs, ready to be hunted down by the little ones. Some of the eggs may even contain sweets or a toy.
The true experts in egg-painting are the Sorbs, a Slavic minority in eastern Germany, on the border with Poland and the Czech Republic. They have even refined this art by actually embellishing some of the eggs with delicate embroidery. Another tradition in this region is the Easter horseback ride in which tail-coated men from one of the parishes ride from village to village on festively adorned horses to spread the Easter tidings. There may be up to 200 horsemen in such processions, with thousands of onlookers lining the streets.
Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa) Eggs also feature prominently in the decorations adorning Easter wells and fountains, to be found mainly in the south and south-east of Germany. The custom is for the people of a town or village to gather and decorate the local wells or fountains with painted eggs and flowers in ever new and intricate patterns. During the Easter period, such wells and fountains are popular excursion destinations, and in parts of Franconia genuine tourist attractions.A widespread tradition, especially in northern Germany, is the lighting of the Easter bonfire or the Easter fire wheel. The latter is an oak wheel stuffed with twigs and straw that is set alight and rolled down a nearby hill. If the wheel makes it to the foot of the hill, it is a sign that the next harvest will be good one. Easter water, on the other hand, is said to possess special powers, keep for a very long time and have complexion-improving qualities. Walking to a nearby spring to draw Easter water is an ancient tradition at Easter. And like so many other festivals, Easter has also produced a number of typical dishes, such as Easter bread, fish on Good Friday and lamb on Easter Sunday.
Copyright: Auswärtiges Amt