Frohe Ostern

March 31st, 2010

When recalling fond memories of my childhood, I am often reminded of the rich holiday traditions that I was fortunate to experience in Deutschland.   Easter is a very special time for German communities.  In the weeks prior to Easter, Germany gets ready for a new season: You will see spring flowers on display and many traditional “Easter trees”, twigs and bushes dripping with colorfully decorated eggs. The custom of boiling and painting eggs, the symbols of new life, began in Germany; the bright colors represent sunlight and growth.  I remember seeing all of the spring flowers being planted which would transform the yards and town squares from the drabness of a long, cold winter to the promise of spring.   

Oddly enough, I was not really aware of Maundy Thursday as a youth.  The Easter weekend in Germany begins with a quiet Good Friday (Karfreitag). Many families eat fish as their traditional Good Friday lunch.  On Easter Saturday we would go to an open-air Easter market, where we would look for artistically handcrafted Easter eggs, carved Easter decoration, and local arts and crafts.  We would always stop by a bakery for a special Easter treat, a sweet cake in the shape of a lamb. On Saturday evening, in the town square we would experience the Easter bonfires, which were supposed to chase away the dark spirits of winter and welcome the warm season.

Easter Sunday is the highlight of the holiday weekend.  Early in the morning, my parents or Oma and Opa, our very loving elderly landlords (and babysitters) would hide baskets filled with colored, hardboiled eggs, chocolate bunnies, sweets, and little presents.   We would then dress in our best clothes and drive to Biebern for Easter services.  Biebern is known for its two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant which sit adjacent from one another.  The two churches have peacefully coexisted since 1770.  Biebern was a special place for us because it allowed all of our friends (Catholic and Protestant) to fellowship before and after services and then we would all share in a traditional Easter lunch of  lamb, potatoes, and fresh vegetables.

In my family, the Easter season continued throughout spring with constant reminders of the beauty of God’s creation and the love that was shared within our little villages of Unzenberg, Kirchberg, Sohren and Lautzenhausen.  I was blessed to live in such a beautiful community in which Christ was the center and healthy relations with neighbors was paramount.  My experience of Easter has always been one of fun (egg/basket hunts), family (spending time with family of origin and family of choice) and faith (sharing in the richness of who Christ is).  My prayer is that this Easter season will be a time of Fun, Family, and Faith for you as well.

Frohe Ostern!

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