The bunny as a symbol of Easter started around the 16th century Germany. As the Germans migrated to other lands, they brought many of their traditions with them. The idea of colored eggs as the symbol of fertility has been around for thousands of years and has been found in different cultures around the world. As Christianity took over Europe, many of the pagan traditions were molded into Christian themes of birth, death and resurrection.
Another German tradition is to decorate branches of trees and bushes with eggs although its origins have been lost. As an American married to a German, I adopted this tradition as one of my own. On our journey as an expat family we also brought this colorful egg tree tradition with us to other lands much to the delight and curiosity to our neighbors. One family turned this into a project. The Kraft family who live in Saalfeld, Germany started in 1965 to continuously collect and hang eggs in their garden. To date, they have over 9,000 colorful plastic eggs hanging on the tree (see photo).
Some people especially in the northern parts of Germany light big bonfires late into the evening on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. It has its roots in symbolizing the return of life and growth in the spring and was a useful way of ridding of old plant material. The Easter fire is a popular community event here in Braunschweig. Every year we meet our neighbors and friends near a farm where the annual bonfire takes place to drink beer, eat bratwurst or bake stockbrot, bread dough on a stick put into a fire to bake.
It is these events that tie me to my adoptive new home and give new meaning to traditions. If you gave any special tradition or way of celebrating Easter, I’ d love to hear about it. Please email me at email@example.com.