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Preparation 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)

On this day in Christian history,  Christ had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people had laid upon the ground before him the branches from palm trees.

In the 1800s and into the early 1900s,  in Christ's place a local clergy rode into a village upon a donkey.  Since there weren't any palm trees in Germany or Russia, the Christians used woven pussy willows to look like palm leaves.

If a real donkey was not in the area, sometimes, a wooden one was used with a figure of Christ placed on it's back.

The parade  (Palmeselprozession) of donkey,  clergy and villagers , who followed, would the walk main street to the church, which they circled several times and then all, accept the donkey,  would go inside the church to hear the sermon.

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:

Palm, Palm, poke,

Let the cuckoo croak,

Let the birds sing,

Let the palms burst out

... Palm, Pam, Posken

Lot den Kuckuck rosken,

Lot die Vuegel singen,

Lot de Palmen springen.

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 church.

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.  

For the evening "Sedar Meal",  the Christians and the Jews shared similar rituals  with their foods on this night.  The Christians  ate what they believed Christ, who was a Jew,  ate at The Last Supper.  This   included the unleaven bread.

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:


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."<<
Unleaven bread

This particular bread held different names in different regions of Germany.

Alemannic = Schild

East Friesland = Plaskes

Saxony = Quarkkelchen

Swabia = Ostergeigen

Upper Bavaria = Osterlaibl

Pomerania = Osterwolf

Hebrew = Matzah

The shape of the bread varied as much as the name.

*Photo found at:



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)
The silence and quiet was continued this day.  

No work was done.

No wagons were to be driven...Children's games were forbidden on this somber day.

In Catholic villages, the bell, also, was silent.

Church services took place.

Many of the services lasted three or more hours. Sometimes the children performed what as called "Passion Plays".

Some people held the tradition of fasting until sunset.There were special church services on Good Friday.  

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.

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 days.
Sometime during the day, the children built their "Bunny Nests" in the front garden or "Hare Nest in the Hare's Garden".  hey would line the nest with freshly cut grasses.  During the pre-dawn hours of Easter, the Easter Bunnies or Easter Hare would place the various goodies of boiled colored eggs, nuts, candies and spiced cookies.

The Easter Hare was unable to reach everywhere in the world  so in Upper Bavaria the cockerel made the deliveries.  In Franconia and Thuringia the fox helped with the deliveries as did the cuckoo in Hanover.  The crane made the deliveries in Hesse. 

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.

We're collecting for the Ester fire,

The old tar barrels are too dear;

We have no reeds, not straw, not bush'

We don't feel like stealing either;

Whoever wants to join in the joy,

Must give straw, reeds and bushes,

One is nothing, two is something

Three, then we'll continue our way,

Don't keep us waiting long,

Because we want to go on further.

Wi sammelt hier to't Osterfuer,

De olen Teertunn'n sind to duer;

Wie hebbs keen Reit, Keen Stoh, kee Busch;

To stehln hebbt wi ok keen Lust;

Wer de Freud will mitbeleben,

Der muttt'n Schov Stroh, Reit, Busch utgeben.

Een is nix, two is wat,

Dre - so gaht wi usen Pad.

Lat't us nich to lange stahn,

Denn wi moett't noch wieder gahn.

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.