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EASTER DAY (Osterntag)

Another tradition was "the Fetching of Easter Water" (Osterwasserholen) which was done by the village girls before dawn.  This was done by the older girls of villages, towns and cities who with a bucket walked quietly and without lifting their eyes to see others went to  well or fountain  and with their bucket scoop up the water which they are to carry home without spilling a drop or speaking to others.   Once home, the girls would  place the bucket down and let the water grow still.  They could then, if they wanted, peer into the motionless water to see the reflection of their future sweetheart.  Then,  they are allowed to wash themselves with the water which, according to tradition, would make them fruitful and beautiful. Once clean, a girl is to pick up a twig or a branch and go to an east window and look out and let the Easter morning sun shine on her face.

The twig and branches are then use upon the late risers of the house and this is called Schmackostern or Osterstiepen.



Before dawn, some of the villagers would rise, dress and then walk out to a place where the sun rise could be seen for this was the day the scriptures of the bible tell us that  Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

"VOESTENNA VOSKRESS" (He is truly arisen!")

These early risers would return to their homes.

The adults,  who did not rise for the dawn services, were up early to prepare for the day's events.

Bunnies Nest or Hare's Nest

Easter Bunny


No one had to wake the children who were at the crack of dawn waiting for the adults to exclaim, "Kommt schnell, der Osterbaas hat schon gelegt!" (Come quick, the Easter bunny has already laid!"). They would then leap out of their beds and run toward the front garden to see what was in their "Bunny Nests".  There were colored eggs, nuts, candies and spiced cookies.

In towns and cities where one couldn't have a garden,  the children found their eggs, nuts, candied and spice cookies in baskets in the home.

Later in the day, there were Easter Egg hunts for the children who used baskets to collect them as they searched.

Key Bone
Another tradition was that the Easter lamb's collar bone was part of the Sunday lunch and in olden times the "reader" of these things should view it and reveal the secrets of the future for those seated at the table.  Therefore the lamb's collar bone held the "key" to the family's future.

The "key bone" is a "Schluesselbein. 

Easter Walk
One usually wore new clothes on Easter Day and each person presented him or herself on the Easter Walk to church.

Later in the USA as the Easter Parade, which didn't have floats or balloons but was just people walking along main street in a small village or a walk in a town's or cities' park..

Photographs of Easter Walks in the US:

Remember Red Estair and Judy Garland singing in the 1948 Irving Berlin movie called Easter Parade:

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it

You'll be the grandest gal in the Easter parade.

I'll be all in clover, and when they look us over

We'll be the proudest couple in the Easter parade.

Links about just the Easter Bonnets:

In the late 1800s and 1900s,  in some places,  the more affluent paraded in carriages in the city parks. 

Easter Baptism
This was not a baptism for an infant.  This was the sprinkling of water toward a field so that it would produce a good crop.
Laughter In Church
The congregation was to make a loud mocking  "Easter Laugh" toward devil in hell who was defeated when Christ arose and all mankind was freed or our sins during what was called the "Easter Sermon" (Ostermaerlein).
Games Played
There were the Easter egg hunts where children searched for the hidden colored hard boiled  eggs.

As boys, who are always ruff and tumble by nature's design just had to tap their eggs together to see whose egg would break first and in time  it became part of a tradition and everyone joined the contest.  It was known as Eierpicken Eierschieben or Schurwele.

There was the egg race (Eierlesen) which was usually a relay race.  All ages joined in the fun.

There was the horse races.  The prize for the winner varied.

Easter Eggs
The egg tradition date back into pre-Christian times.   And, it logical that the egg has taken the role of fertility and relished at Easter.

I didn't know this, but in Germany, eggs were used to pay their Easter taxes to their masters.  The wealth of the master depended upon how many eggs and other perishable goods he received as gifts.  And the more popular a master was the more he received.

Egg hunting can be traced back to early times in Germany to about the year 1662.  

The earliest decorated egg dates back to the 4 AD and was found in a Romano-Germanic sarcophagus near the town of Worms.

No one knows for sure how the tradition  of decorating eggs started.

Decorated eggs are , sometimes,  displayed in various ways.  In a crude form, they were boiled and pushed through with a spike on a stick which could be decorated with ribbons.  Some were placed in glass vases.  Sometimes a  doll's face was made of an egg and given a body of straw or cloth which represented "new life". Some eggs were made into a bird with feathers as plumes and sticks as legs...  This as known as a Ostervogel or Paradise Bird (Paradiesvogel) or the "Holy Spirit Dove" (Heiliger-Geist-Tauble).  A wreath of eggs was often the display of a victory or a center piece for the Easter table.  Added to the Easter decoration were spring flowers such as daffodils and pussy willows.

Hard boil eggs were served at supper along with salt, bread and a piece of lamb.  Sometimes, the eggs were shelled and the yolks smashed and then replaced in the hollow of the half white of the egg and became what we know as deviled eggs.   

 In some villages, children would sing for eggs as they walked from house to house.  This was called "Easter singing" (Ostersingen).

The food of Easter day varies from home to home and place to place.


Happy Easter!Frohe Ostern!

In some areas,  a man riding a decorated mule,  lead the villagers to church services on Easter Monday.

A good day to start on the leftovers.  There is one particular left over dish which is called "Eler in gruener Sosse" ("eggs in green sauce").  It is suppose to be delicious but I've never eaten it and have no idea what it consists of as far as the ingredients of the sauce.  Have you? 

Kurudschika Village in Bessarabia, S. Russia, Easter Monday in 1938

From Alfred Hein's Photo Collection

See story by Alfred Hein