German Easter celebrations and traditions

Ostern – Easter

Ostern (Easter) is well celebrated throughout Germany. It’s both a religious and a family holiday. It commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and marks the end of Lent. In Germany both Karfreitag (Good Friday) and Ostermontag (Easter Monday) are public holidays. All shops are closed on Friday, Sunday and Monday. The Easter days are quiet. Some people go to church, others get together with family and friends over breakfast or dinner or seek the outdoors.                            

Spring – New life/beginnings

My favourite time of the year

Ostern is my favourite time of the year. Growing up in Germany it marks the beginning of spring. Everywhere you look daffodils, crocuses and tulips pop up and trees show the first signs of lush green leaves and pale pink buds. At home it was the time for my dad to blow out eggs for us kids to paint. My mum would decorate the house with clay bunnies and wooden ornaments. When I was old enough to handle the delicate eggs, I would help my mum decorate fresh cut branches with the eggs we had collected over many years.

Osterstrauss - Branches in a vase hung with Easter eggs
Osterstrauß

At German class we got crafty and played games

This week at German class we talked about Easter traditions in Germany and got crafty. The children first made out of yellow cardboard little Easter baskets. They decorated them with bunnies, eggs and flowers.

Easter baskets made out of yellow card
Easter baskets

Afterwards we painted eggs. Some of the children had brought blown out eggs, others eggs made of styrofoam or plastic. They all looked very colourful and beautiful once finished.

Childern painting eggs for Easter
Painting eggs for Easter

While we waited for the paint to dry, we had a sack race and an egg spoon race outside. The children formed two teams and skillfully balanced a boiled egg on a spoon while running down the hill and back. It was great fun.

Egg spoon race

German Easter Traditions and Vocabulary

  • Osterhase – Easter bunny/hare. The Easter bunny hides eggs either in the garden or house.
  • Ostereier bemalen – Painting blown out eggs
  • Osterstrauß – A bunch of fresh cut branches arranged in a vase hung with coloured eggs and little ornaments
  • Osterbaum – Easter tree. A tree that is decorated with coloured eggs
    • The tree and the egg both represent symbols of life/new beginnings.
  • Eier färben – Dyed eggs. First the eggs are hard boiled and then dyed with food or natural colour.
  • Ostereier suchen – Hunt for Easter eggs. Children hunt for chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies on Easter Sunday. Sometimes they even find little nests with eggs.
  • Ostereier-Ticken – A game played at breakfast. Each person holds a boiled egg and tries to crack the top end of another competitors egg. The winner is the one with the pointed end still intact.
  • Osterzopf – A sweet braided yeast bread. It’s part of a traditional Easter breakfast. The braid tastes especially good eaten with butter.
  • Osterfeuer – Big bonfires are lit on either Easter Saturday or Sunday in various parts of Germany. In pre-Christian times this ritual was probably held to expel winter.
  • Osterspaziergang – A walk on Easter Monday to welcome spring

Frohe Ostern! – Happy Easter!

Osterbaum - Tree hung with eggs, blue sheep in front of it, snow on ground
Osterbaum