Frohe Ostern! Happy Easter in Germany!
A few weeks before Easter Sunday in Germany, you can also see in many towns an Easter Market, called Ostermarkt in German, where they sell decorated Easter eggs, chocolate eggs and bunnies, spring ornaments and more Easter crafts. Germans love to decorate their houses and gardens with Easter decorations. But be careful about chocolate Easter eggs in Germany: many contain alcohol and are not suitable for young kids.
Many of these Easter decorations come directly from the pagan Frühlingfest’s (spring fête) symbols of fertility such as the egg (Ei) and the rabbits (Hasen) that became the Ostereier (Easter eggs) and the Osterhasen (Easter bunnies). It is the Germans who brought these customs with them when they immigrated to North America. On the other hand, Easter in Germany does still have a few customs of its own such as the “Osterbaum” (the Easter Tree) and the “Osterbrunnen” (Easter Fountain).
These Easter trees are either made of branches cut from pussy willows or other flowering bushes or are small living trees and bushes that are already planted around the house. In the case of the cut branches, they are usually brought in the house and put in a vase to be decorated with hand painted wooden eggs, hollowed out real eggs and little garlands. In the same way, the living trees and bushes outside the house are also decorated with plastic, wooden or real painted eggs and wreaths. It makes for a splash of colour in otherwise often gray spring days, giving the towns and cities a more festive atmosphere. Of course little Easter chocolate eggs are also left by the big Easter Bunny (Osterhase) around bushes and trees for kids to find on Easter Sunday. Many of these Easter traditions were introduced to the United States in Pennsylvania by Germans settlers in the early 1700’s.