Easter traditions in Germany: The Easter bunny, the Easter egg and the Easter fire

By Nadine Bower, Roland SchedelMarch 28, 2022

Easter traditions in Germany: The Easter bunny, the Easter egg and the Easter fire
WIESBADEN, Germany - Handpainted Easter Egg (Photo credit: Christine Renner, rennerdesign.biz) (Photo Credit: Roland Schedel) VIEW ORIGINAL

WIESBADEN, Germany – Easter time is associated with the beginning of spring and new life in Germany. Several Easter traditions have to do with banishing the winter and welcoming spring, however there are differences from county to county.

Usually before Easter Sunday, the church bells fall silent to remember the time of Christ’s suffering and death. According to local legends, children believe that the bells fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope, but will be back the night before Easter Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

On Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, many people in Germany commemorate Jesus by abstaining from eating meat and from participating in dances or going out.

On Easter Sunday, the happiness comes back.

The main figure of the German Easter custom cannot be photographed or caught. Nevertheless, parents tell their children that the Easter Bunny has visited their yards. Who else would put colorful eggs, gummy bears and chocolate in the nests or Easter baskets that children search for in their backyard on Easter Sunday?

It is still unclear whether the furry “hopper” paints the eggs himself. Or does he merely collect the eggs from the chicken and throws them into his paint bucket? The custom that different species of animals - and not just the Easter Bunny - are responsible for coloring and hiding the eggs, dates back to the 16th century. In Schleswig-Holstein, Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bavaria, the fox or the Easter rooster came to hide the eggs. In Thuringia it is the stork who delivers the eggs to the children.

Nevertheless, the belief that the Easter Bunny does his work alone has been considered certain for the past 300 years.

To the early Christians, the hare was considered a symbol of pagans who had been converted. For us, the bunny, eggs and the spring symbolize fertility and a new zest for life. In Germany, the Easter tradition is celebrated with family and friends, while looking forward to the approaching summertime.

Eggs also express friendship - hiding them, searching them and eating them is as much a part of Easter as the Easter Bunny. It is said that some people abstain from eating eggs during Lent.

In the past, eggs were preserved by boiling them and coloring them with plant extracts, such as onions, so that they could be easily distinguished from raw eggs. And yes, speaking of bunnies - many German families add another treat to their Easter meal - a roast of lamb or even a roasted hare. Many families also bake lamb-shaped cakes for their Easter Sunday celebrations. The lamb symbolizes life, but also embodies Christ.

Some German adults enjoy another German Easter tradition, Easter egg shooting. At a local shooting range, people shoot air rifles at small targets and win a colored egg every time they hit the target.

Easter fires have also been a tradition in Germany for centuries. Traditionally, they can be found in Christian communities where people gather to light a big bonfire on the evening before Easter Sunday.

Easter in Germany is usually the time when many festivals and markets come back to life. It is the end of the Lenten season and the unofficial beginning of spring.