Easter is coming. In America, that may mean a visit from the Easter bunny, lots of chocolate candy, and perhaps Easter egg hunts. For the religious, it may mean going to church and, later, enjoying a special meal. Here in Germany and in other parts of Europe, it may mean you’ll see some special trees…
Behold… Der Ostereierbaum
This year marks the fifth Easter season I have spent in Germany, but it’s the first year I ever stopped and wondered about the trees decorated with Easter eggs that show up every spring. I asked my German friend Susanne about them and she pointed me to this Wikipedia article. Apparently, the Easter Egg tree tradition has been going on for centuries in places like Germany and Austria, and other countries with a Germanic influence to include some parts of the United States.
Depending on when Easter falls during a given year, families start hanging eggs on outdoor trees or indoor branches between late February and late March. The egg is a symbol of new life, which is of course appropriate during the spring, when trees are starting to burst into green , flowers are blooming, and baby animals are being born. Easter hearkens better weather and brighter days after a long winter.
Another neighbor’s little tree.
A famous example of an Easter Egg tree was the Saalfelder Ostereierbaum, which is in Saalfeld, Thuringia. The apple tree, located in a garden and, from 1965 until 2015, decorated by Volker Kraft and his family, is notable for having thousands of eggs on it. In 1965, it had just 18 eggs, and every year until 2015 more were added until the tree became notable around the world. Although the Saalfelder Ostereierbaum does not hold the record for having the most eggs on it, it did become a tourist attraction. Many tourists brought their own eggs to put on the trees while others purchased eggs for five euros.
In 2015, the Kraft family decided not to decorate the tree anymore. In 2016, the mouth blown eggs that were used on the tree were given away to another entity with plans to decorate a different tree in Saalfeld.
A news report about the tree. It’s quite a sight!
I hope everyone has a happy Easter! We’ll probably be brewing more beer.