Ask any child and they will tell you that Easter is one of their favorite holidays of the year! Easter in Germany is not that much different than the Easters I celebrated as a child.
However, there is one tradition that I’ve never heard of before–that of the Osterbrunnen, or Easter Well. These decorated town fountains can be found all over the region called Franconia. And guess where I live?
As I said, we had never heard of it before…Friday afternoon. One of the teachers just yelled at me in passing to go searching out the decorated Easter wells. Not one to pass up a challenge, especially a colorful, cultural, and photogenic one, we spent a good part of our weekend searching out these new commodities.
How did this tradition begin? Many say it harkens back to a more pagan time when people worshipped items from nature. The wells would be decorated with eggs, paying tribute to water as an essential element in life and to eggs as a symbol of fertility.
What do they look like? All the Easter wells, or Osterbrunnen, that we saw had similar qualities. The townspeople had fashioned wire supports for pine garlands, in the shape of arches. On these arches, there were strings of colored eggs. Some of the eggs were plastic, but many were really hollowed eggs. All had been decorated or painted. These were strung in groups of color; blue or yellow were very popular strands. There usually were other elements intertwined with the eggs. Many of the arches were topped by a crown or cross. There were prominent or larger eggs sporting important Easter symbols, such as lambs or bunnies. Some had Easter baskets, many had chickens, and one place even had larger-than-life straw bunnies delivering eggs from their bicycles.
Have you ever been to Franconia? Have you seen the Osterbrunnen? If not, there is still time. They usually stay up for about two weeks after Easter.
What Easter traditions do you celebrate?
Happy Easter everybody!