Easter in Germany

colourbox Enlarge image (© colourbox)

Easter in Germany is a time for coloured eggs, chocolate bunnies, bonfires and spring cleaning. Although mainly a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Easter also marks the beginning of spring. Germans celebrate the change of season with a whole range of customs and traditions.

Easter eggs - dyed or lovingly painted

Colourful and decorated eggs as a symbol of resurgent life in the spring are a quintessential part of the Easter tradition in Germany. They are on every table at Easter, whether made of chocolate or coloured. During the days ahead of the Easter festival packets of paints for colouring the eggs are on sale in the shops. Those with time on their hands and patience can find colours at home: Beetroot provides a lovely red, logwood (Campechianum) yields a rich blue. A bright yellow can be achieved with the aid of turmeric, while spinach provides green and elderberries violet. The eggs are cooked in a liquid in which the ingredients have been boiled.Children love to paint their own eggs. Chicken eggs, from which the contents have been blown out - preferably white ones - are carefully painted with watercolours or with a felt-tip pen and are then tied with a ribbon to the Easter bouquet at home.

colourbox Enlarge image (© colourbox) German chocolate speciality shops offer their best at Easter time

At Easter Germany's chocolate shops present their best in original shapes and packaging. Spices that have long been mixed with chocolate in South America have now become common in German Easter creations. "Ginger, red pepper and strawberry pulp are the new ingredients," says Thomas Pape of the German sweets association (BDSI). For the past two years the chili egg has been part of the range in the popular Berlin chocolate seller's In't veld. "I'll wager that it will be a hit again," says manager Holger In't veld. For the first time the firm is offering genuine chicken eggs that are completely filled with nougat.  By contrast the world's largest Easter hare at Fassbender & Rausch is not for sale. It is made of 11,320 small chocolate hares and stands a towering 3.19 metres high. Those with money to burn can, however, buy a metre-high Easter hare. The shop offers more than 30 different kinds of filled eggs. Berlin's upmarket Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) is offering Italian specialities this year. "We are selling chocolate eggs filled with gianduja, a nutty substance much like nougat," says Ingo Wilken, a specialist in the sweets section at KaDeWe. Chocolate speciality shops are this year offering a wide range of dark chocolate. Even the traditional German Baumkuchen, a hollow cylindrical cake, is being sold this year in a dark chocolate variety. The general trend towards dark chocolate can also be seen in the supermarkets, where previously milk chocolate was dominant. "Bitter chocolate Easter hares are available there too - something unthinkable until recently," the BDSI's Thomas Pape says.

Horseriding at Easter in Upper Lusatia

Men in formal dress astride horses covered with ornaments are to be seen in Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) in the German state of Saxony on Easter Sunday. In line with longstanding tradition around 1,600 Easter riders saddle up for the day out of a deep sense of piety. On their way to the nearest parish church the men in tophat and tails announce Christ's resurrection. Thousands of spectators watch the ceremony from the roadside ever year.In the triangle marked by Bautzen, Hoyerswerda and Kamenz, which is home to the Catholic Sorbs - a western Slavic minority - there are nine separate processions leading through more than 30 towns and villages. The Easter riders from Bautzen, Crostwitz, Nebelschuetz, Ostro, Panschwitz-Kuckau, Radibor, Ralbitz and Storcha pray and sing in the Sorbian language, while those from Wittichenau also use German. The men leading each procession carry religious banners, along with the cross. In Ostritz on the Polish border there is a similar tradition, the so-called "seed rides," where the seed is blessed. (© dpa nic)

By 1490 riding processions had been established between Hoyerswerda and Wittichenau. The origins are thought to be pre-Christian. In the past people are believed to have gone round their land either on foot or on horseback to protect it from evil spirits.

Easter in Germany