Easter in the Spreewald

Just like Christmas, Easter is very important in my family. For generations, we have celebrated the holiday in our own way: a mixture of Christian traditions and local customs from the Spreewald.

When it snowed at Easter...

On Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion, my family spends a rather quiet day. We don't listen to music on that day, and we don't eat meat. That's why my grandma usually cooks us fish.

On the following Saturday, the preparations begin. The eggs are dyed and painted. Moss is fetched from the forest and then Easter nests are built from it. In the past, children only had one Easter nest and typically built it themselves. At that time, the nest didn't have to be hidden, but could be placed wherever the child wanted.

For example, when my grandmother was little, she put her Easter nest in such a way that she could watch it very closely. Unfortunately, instead of the Easter Bunny, she only saw her aunt. From that point on, Easter was over for her, she was “done for”, as she told me.  

We also had an Easter bonfire several times. Of course, it always depended on the weather. Traditionally, this is always done on Saturday.

On the night of Easter Sunday, our local Spreewald tradition comes into play: fetching Easter water. This custom is carried out by the women of the family. With a vessel or bucket, the women set off on Saturday night before sunrise to the Spree. The Easter water is to be drawn from the river. The special rules make the task more difficult. It is not allowed to talk on the way and also not to look backwards. 

In the past, the young men tried to scare the girls because they were not allowed to speak. But if the girls made it and washed themselves with the water, they said it made them especially beautiful.
A particularly creative hiding place

When they finally made it back, the family was blessed with the water and Jesus was thanked for his sacrifice and resurrection. Unfortunately, this custom is nowadays hard to find. But in my family, I have taken over the tradition from my grandmother for two years now and continue it.

On Easter Sunday in the morning, the children search for eggs, sweets, and presents in the traditional way. After lunch, we go for our Easter walk, usually followed by a game of cricket. Then we have eggnog, and my grandfather probably eats his eighth egg at this point. 

At the godfather's house, too, there is another search in the afternoon. There, the child gets a “Pingel", a square cloth, in which the eggs and presents can then be stowed.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is spent with the family. We play music, drink, and laugh together for as long as we can because on Monday we have to recover from the weekend.