EASTER WEEK IN THE GERMAN-RUSSIAN COLONIES
For Easter Week
The women baked a special tall round cake which was smothered with a mound of sweet sugary frosting sprinkled with colored granulated sugar. This cake is called a"Kulich" (Kalatch). They also made a rich cheesecake called "Pashka" . Both of these delicious desserts were a cuisine discovery in their adopted country of Russia.
Easter eggs were boil and colored for the "Bunny Nests" or "Hare's Nests" created by the children in the flower garden or Hare's Garden (Hasengaertle) in front of their houses . Eggs were also need for the "Easter Egging" ("Easter Egg Hunt") and various games like "Egg Throwing", "Egg Rolling" (Eierpicken, Eierscieben, Scurwele) and relay races (Eierlesen)... Also, eggs were to be given to all herders of cows, horses and geese, milk maids and other servants. Old Easter Baskets were prepared or made. The baskets were used by the children as they collected colored eggs from their godparents and grandparents.
Nut, candies and spiced cookies were also prepared for the "Bunny Nests".
If the children were not going to use the spring grass to line the "Bunny Nests", these children had planted rye grass in pots a few week earlier so the grass had sprouted and was growing on one of the window siles of the house.
And, of course, there was the deep spring cleaning of the house when everything was moved, turned, rolled over , cleaned, washed, moped and swept.
|PALM SUNDAY (Sunday Before Easter)|
In Palatinate it was a custom for everyone to eat three pussy willow fuzzy buds. Why? I really don't know. Do you?
|Crooked Wednesday (Crummer Mittwoch)|
This is the day that the scriptures, or, it is a day which is tagged
by tradition to tell us , that Judas hung himself.
Children sing on this day the following:
|Maunday Thursday or Green Thursday (Gruendonnerstog)|
Day of penitents when those who had left the church were accepted
back into the church for Communion after having been ban for forty days.
Green clothes were worn by those who wished to be taken back into the
Another tradition to take place on this day was that of the final cleaning the house and taking a bath in memory of Christ washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. [This is linked to the Jewish preparation for the Passover Feast on Jewish homes.] Green foods were part of this day and were to be eaten. This included spinach, kale, water crest, leeks, chives and other herbs. [This was a carry over from pre-Christian days when greens were eaten in celebration of all things green growing in spring for luck of the coming year.] The German "seven herbs soup" has spinach, parsley, leek, chive, dandelion and sorrel took care of this old pre-Christian tradition at lunch time.
Links to sites that explain more are: Christian Passover Seder Meal on Maudy Thursday and the breaking of the unleaven bread (matzah).:
Women for Faith and Family
wrote the traditional food is:
>>ELEMENTS OF THE MEAL
Lamb The word 'pesach' (pasch, passover) applies to the Lamb of sacrifice as well as to the deliverance from Egypt and to the feast itself.
Unleavened bread (Matzoh) called "bread of affliction" because it recalls the unleavened bread prepared for the hasty flight by night from Egypt. Three large matzohs are broken and consumed during the ceremony.
Bitter herbs (Moror) is a reminder of the bitterness of slavery and suffering in Egypt.
Green herbs to be dipped in salt water. Salt water represents tears of sorrow shed during the captivity of the Lord's people.
Haroseth (or 'haroses') represents the mortar used by Jews in building palaces and pyramids of Egypt during their slavery. (It is a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine.)
Wine is dipped from a common bowl. The 'Four Cups,' Thanksgiving, Hagadah ('telling'), Blessing, and Melchisedek ('righteousness'), are "four different words for redemption, spoken by God to Moses."<<
Some German-Russians did not use unleaven bread but replaced it with bread rolls and butter sprinkled with green herbs. If your family migr. from Hamburg area in Germany to Russia, they ate rolls filled with honey.
In Westphalia, Judas is remembered by making his image out of straw (Krampus) and was taken to the village church where it would remain until just before Easter Day midnight.
If your ancestors were from Silesia, the bell-ringer came forth dressed in a red waistcoat who was dubbed as being the towns Judas and was sermonously driven out of town by a bunch of noisy children carrying "Easter Rattles"
It was said that Easter Eggs were laid on this day by birds who's feathers changed colors during this process each year. Somewhere around the 1500s, the German children learned that bunnies laid special colored easter eggs which they would find on Easter mornings.
In earlier times, this was a day of mourning.
The hammer of the blacksmith was not to be heard as it was on this day so long ago when Christ was nailed to the cross.
No butchering was allowed on this day.
Anything that sparkled was to be covered because it was not considered fitting that anything shinning be seen on Good Friday.
|GOOD FRIDAY (Karfreitag)|
Lenton Food was eaten.
Brought into the house this day was twigs, like pussy willow branches, to decorate the home in memory of the crown of thorns Christ wore as he carried the cross. With this was branches of trees blooming to remember the future growth of trees which would bare fruit as a symbol of the beliefs of people blossoming into Christians.
This was a evening to cut hair because this would insure the owner of the hair to continue to have a full and luxurious head of hair for the coming year.
|SATURDAY BEFORE EASTER|
This was a day children, whom had been under silence needed something
to do to get rid of their energy after being so confined the last few
Another task for the children was to collect firewood and prepare for an outdoor bonfire.
Before Germans became Christians, these bonfire were created and set for the celebration of spring's arrival. Since the time of Emperor Constantine, the Great, the pre-Christians bonfire were absorbed into the Christian tradition and proclaimed to be the symbol of "joy".
In some areas, the children didn't collect wood just on Saturday before Easter, they would during Easter week go around the village collecting wood and burnable trash for the bonfires on this Saturday night before Easter Day.
No matter how young or how old, everyone is asked to be part of the bonfire tradition on the night before Easter Day.
Photo From Alfred Hein's Collection
Boys , who have blacken their faces with charcoal, were given torches to run around the fire.
Girls blacken their their faces, too. I don't think they ran around the fire. It was their job to find the cinders which would be taken home to remember those less fortunate.
The ashes of the bonfires will be spread in places like the cow barn where it is said that this will keep ailments in check and gardens to ward off the mice.
In Niedermirsberg in Franconia, wooden wheels are set afire and rolled down hillsides. This is called Osterraederlauf.
In Luegde in Westphalia, huge oak wheels are woven with straw are set afire with the torches carried by young people who race after the rolling wheels to the bottom of a valley. It is their duty to keep the wheel burning until it reaches the valley floor.
However this fiery wheel is displayed, it no doubt came from the pre-Christian times and remain part of the Easter Week Celebrations.