Easter in Germany is just as big of a deal with Germans as Christmas. Every year colorful eggs tied on with ribbons hang from every tree and bush in every village, town and neighborhood. Smaller trees also find their way into the homes of Germans as colorful centerpieces. The Ostereierbaum or Easter egg tree does not only make the house feel more festive in the springtime but decorating them with little wooden bunnies and eggs are a longtime tradition in many families, including my own.
Just like Germany’s Christmas decorations, the painted wooden eggs, Easter bunnies or Osterhasen, birds and bird nests figures have their origin in the Erzgebirge or the ore mountains. The Erzgebirge was a center for silver and tin mining and since miners were familiar with tools and woodwork to help shore up tunnels, they would use their knowledge to carve figures and toys even during their free time.
As time passed, and the mines eventually stopped producing, the people needed to come up with another way to make money. Soon after, they began selling their woodcarvings to tradesmen, who would take them all over Germany and beyond.
Today, several workshops within the Erzgebirge continue the old tradition of handpainted and hand-carved Easter ornaments. In our family, we carefully retrieve the wooden ornaments and hanging eggs every year out of its storage box and the house instantly feels more festive and signals that Spring has officially arrived.
And although Nussknacker or Nutcrackers and other German Christmas ornaments are now easily found throughout the United States, it is still a little bit harder to find German wooden Easter decorations. But eBay and etsy are a good place to start your own traditional German heirloom Easter tradition.
So, Frohe Ostern!