Hoppy Easter everyone! Hope it was eggcellent! 😉 Sorry not sorry for all the puns... Anyway, my Easter long weekend was really wonderful, spent with a few of my new friends here in Germany, eating delicious food and learning about some lovely German traditions! Here's just a few of the ones I got to enjoy 🐰 🐣 🍫
Painting or dyeing eggs
Decorating eggs is quite a big tradition here in Germany for Easter (and of course in other parts of the world too), and I had a lot of fun dyeing some eggs on Good Friday! For those playing at home, all you need to do is place some nice leaves on your egg, wrap it in an old pair of stockings and tie with string, boil your dyes (we used various natural colours, like blue flower petals, green herbs, and even dried pink insects!), then place the eggs in the pot of dye until they're done! They should come out with lots of pretty colours and a leafy pattern ☘
Ours didn't turn out quite as vibrant as we'd hoped, but I'm still really pleased with them, I absolutely love the pastel colours, and definitely want to try this again next Easter!
Easter wells and fountains
There's a long tradition in this part of Germany to decorate fountains and wells with colourful, painted eggs. It's called Osterbrunnen, and it began in the early 1900's in the Fränkische Schweiz (AKA Franconian Switzerland (not actually Switzerland!)). But why? Well, we have to go a bit into the geology of the landscape to answer that! So, to start with, here's the lovely Fränkische Schweiz landscape from the top of the Hohenmirsberg tower. 💎
As you can (maybe) see, it's quite a hilly landscape, with limestone plateaus and rugged outcrops over deep valleys. This means that water tends to just drain away from the plateaus, which is unfortunate because that's where many of the towns are located! Back in the day, the townspeople had great difficulty in getting clean fresh water up from the valley onto the plateaus. As such, wells and fountains (whether natural or man-made) were incredibly important, and decorating them at Easter was to honour the life-giving water they provided. Now, of course, technology is more advanced and the wells and fountains are not needed so much, but the tradition remains, and it sure is pretty! Below is one of the original decorated wells in Trainmeusel; it's a natural well adorned with real painted boiled eggs, and evergreen leaves 🌲
Next we saw one of the earliest man-made wells, which was housed in this wooden structure, in Birkenreuth. I was pretty excited to see a kangaroo and a pikachu painted on some of the eggs!
Inside the wooden structure, there were more decorations with eggs hanging from the ceilings, a little bunny house, and a kind of nativity scene but for Easter time...not sure if there's a word for that! (update: I googled it, turns out you could call it a 'resurrection scene'...)
I also visited a few of the fountains that were not historically decorated, but are nowadays simply because it looks so beautiful and brings the community together (plus it's great for attracting tourists like me, haha)! So, here's a few of my favourite painted eggs from various fountains around the place! I'm amazed at how detailed the egg artistry is!
In Germany, the Easter holidays come just after winter has officially turned to spring, so it's often the first time in the year that the weather is nice enough to go for a walk outdoors. This is such a nice tradition, that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (one of Germany's famous writers) even wrote a poem about it! So, a nice Easter walk is exactly what we did, hiking up the Walberla, where a little chapel sits at the very top. 🚶
There were also some more stunning views of the Fränkische Schweiz from up there! And me! 😛
On our walk through the woods, we also saw a lot of cool fungi and lichen, and yes, of course, I took photos of as many as I could... I think they're pretty... 🍄
GOING TO CHURCH
I'm not super religious, but I do still find it nice to visit a church over Easter. I find them so peaceful, and a great place to reflect. All of the churches/cathedrals/basilicas I've seen in Germany so far have been so beautifully decorated, and the Balthasar Neumann's basilica in Gößweinstein was no exception! ⛪
I also visited St Michael's church in Weidenberg, which was (again) very beautiful! I was quite interested to learn that this began as a Catholic church and later became a Protestant church, but kept the Catholic name St Michael (even though saints aren't really as highly recognised in Protestantism as they are in Catholicism)! I'm not any kind of expert on religion though so maybe don't quote me on any of that... ✝
SO MUCH delicious food
And finally, I just gotta talk about the food! There seems to be some traditions which we have back in Australia too (like chocolate for every meal on Easter Sunday... or is that just me?), but there were also some traditions that I'd never even heard of! Namely Gründonnerstag AKA Mourning Thursday or Green Thursday, where as far as I can tell, the tradition is to eat something green! I was at the university this day, and the cafeteria served a traditional dish of green spinach with scrambled eggs... unfortunately, it kind of reminded me of Dr Seuss's green eggs and ham and I couldn't finish it all, but rest assured I had my fair share of greens later in the day! 🍳
Next up, it's Karfreitag AKA Good Friday. For me back home in Perth, this is traditionally the day that you're officially allowed to start eating hot cross buns (although most people get into them way before this day, who am I kidding?). Sadly, these delicious buns are not to be found here in Germany, but they do have their own kind of sweet Osterbrot (Easter bread), usually made with raisins, almonds, and candied citrus peel! I was lucky to try a home-made one, shaped like a sweet bunny! 🐇
Another traditional Good Friday meal is, of course, fish! I happen to love fish, and enjoyed a delicious river fish pan-fried whole with herbs and spices, and fried potatoes, expertly cooked by some of my good friends here in Bayreuth. And oh my goodness, it was so tasty!! I've always been a bit apprehensive about cooking a fish whole (head, tail, bones, and all!), but this experience has definitely made me want to give it a try when I get home! 🐟
And last but certainly not least, we had lamb roast (my favourite), made by my supervisor and his family! This is also a traditional meal back home in Perth, and (especially seeing as I don't have an oven in my apartment and can't do any roasts myself) I was very, very excited to have a home-cooked roast lamb for Easter Monday! It was filled with Mediterranean flavours (which is not so traditional for Germany, but hey, still delicious), and served with roast potatoes and green bean salad. Oh, and some very smooth, very tasty Spanish red wine, then some berries and yoghurt-cream for dessert. Yum!! 🐑
Now please excuse me while I look after my food baby...
Hope you all had a happy easter!
So that's it from me, I hope you enjoyed hearing about the Easter traditions that I got to experience while here in Germany! I feel so lucky to have met such caring people here in Bayreuth, who really looked after me over the Easter break and welcomed me into their celebrations; thank you so much to Gerhard, Margaret, Julienne, Andreas, Johannes, and Evelin! ❤️
And of course, I missed my family and friends back home over this holiday, and I hope you all had a wonderful Easter long weekend! Would love to hear what you all got up to, and which traditions your family or culture has for this time of year 😊