With Easter falling on the end of March this year, we wanted to explore this celebratory time a bit further. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, painting ‘ostereier’ (Easter eggs) and eating lots of chocolate is as part of Easter as anywhere else. But have you heard of Germany lighting fires or decorating trees in honour of Easter? We explore the top 10 weird and wonderful Easter traditions from the DACH region.

The long bank holiday weekend around Easter, which falls on the weekend of 31 March this year, has always been a weekend of traditions and of spontaneous trips. After all, getting a few extra days off just calls for a city break, or a vacation in the sun. If you’re heading to Germany, Switzerland or Austria over the Easter weekend, you might just see an Easter bonfire. Or you could visit an egg museum.

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

Photo: Tourismus Adelboden-Lenk-Kandersteg, swiss-image.ch/Anja Zurbruegg

A quick tip: If you’re into dancing and are headed to Germany, however, be aware that on Good Friday, ‘Karfreitag’ in German, traditionally no church bells are supposed to ring, no songs are sung and no music should be played, as this is the day Jesus was crucified. That’s why you can expect clubs to stop their music at midnight on Thursday, as it’s still illegal to dance on Good Friday.

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

Photo: Pixabay

1. In Bloom – Mountain Hikes in Switzerland

Spring is a great time of year to hike along Switzerland’s gorgeous mountain panoramas. The temperatures get milder, and the first flowers start to show up in full bloom. The county has a variety of popular spring hikes on offer, from Champex-Lac – often called Canada of Switzerland, to the Lötschental valley and the Lauchernalp mountain station from which a path leads through many colourful flower meadows to the Kummental valley. It is important to mention that various plants in Switzerland are rare and protected. Basically, the following applies anyway: Do not pull out any plants or parts of plants or even pick any bouquets. Enjoy the view, take a photo and leave everything there so that others can also enjoy the flowers.

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

Lenk Simmental, Switzerland. Photo: Lenk Simmental Tourismus, swiss-image.ch/Patrick Aegerter



2) The ‘Zwängerle’

A popular game, the ‘Zwängerle’ usually takes place on Easter Monday throughout Switzerland. One egg is needed, and the adults try to break their children’s egg with a coin. If the adults succeed in cracking the eggshell with their coin and the coin ends up inside the egg, the adults win and the egg belongs to them. If they don’t crack the egg, the coin now belongs to the child.

3) Colourful Easter fountains

When coming across one of the ever-popular ‘Osterbrunnen’, you’ll know that Easter is upon us. They’re usually displayed from early April onwards and can best be described as colourfully decorated fountains on public squares. They’re a great sight not to be missed and can be found across Southern Germany, where more Catholic areas can generally be found. The most famous of these fountains is in Bavaria’s Bieberbach. The iconic fountain has won numerous Guinness World records for its great decoration – no wonder, then, that the small village gets over 30,000 tourists around Easter, annually. There are even entire German tours dedicated to visiting this very attraction.

4) Big and bold Easter fires

These large public bonfires are held in cities and villages across the country to welcome the spring and are usually a meeting place for young and old alike. Expect a huge amount of alcoholic beverages, tasty foodstuffs like ‘bratwurst’ and a fun evening warming up at the huge fires. And prepare for the hangover the next morning.

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

Photo: Unsplash

5) ‘Eierpecken’ game

One of Austria’s more curious Easter traditions is the ‘Eierpecken’, which is a fun Easter egg battle during the Easter breakfast or brunch. While coloured hard-boiled eggs are served alongside a cake in the shape of a lamb, a battle ensues. Each player holds their egg with the tip pointing up and prepares for the battle. Then, the first player starts hitting another egg tip with their own egg ,with the goal of breaking the shell of the other egg. The winner then proceeds around the table and tries his luck with other players. The winner is the person who is left with an intact egg at the end. Sounds like quite a bit of frivolous fun with the family, right?

6) Brace the cold water

Switzerland has yet another fun Easter custom on offer: the Easter Monday Blue-Egg-Swim in Lake Greifensee. As the title suggests, families and individuals go Easter egg hunting in the lake on Easter Monday in temperatures between five and 15 degrees Celsius. How does it work exactly? Participants will swim around 20 metres to the diving platform, before getting out of the water, grabbing the egg and returning it safely to shore. The crowd will cheer you on and other rewards are egg soup, other tasty broths and much more! If you are interested in joining, just turn up on the day, as there is no need to register.

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

The Easter Monday Blue-Egg-Swim in Lake Greifensee. Photo: © www.blaueierschwimmen.ch

7) Easter egg trees all around

One of the big German Easter traditions is definitely the Easter egg tree. Sounds weird? Well, it simply relates to colourful trees and bushes that have been decorated with Easter eggs. You can normally find them throughout gardens all over the country, and there are also a few famous ones that are proper tourist magnets. One example of this is the Saalfelder Ostereierbaum in Thuringia’s Saalfeld.

8) Palm Sunday processions

In many Tirolean communities throughout Austria, Palm Sunday is celebrated with traditional processions that are well worth a visit. The procession in Imst is especially popular, where the young men parade through the village with the so-called ‘palm branches’ that are decorated with colourful ribbons, pretzels and branches. The branches can be an incredible 30 metres long and when they are being carried through the streets, it is a rather awesome sight.

9) The Easter bunny

Why are the DACH countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland especially obsessed with the Easter bunny as the primary Easter symbol? One theory says that the obsession with the hare started as it was a companion of a Germanic spring goddess called Ostara. Either way – while British kids prefer to indulge in chocolate eggs, children from the DACH region tend to find chocolate bunnies on their Easter brunch tables.

10) Enjoy a relaxing Easter brunch

If you like cosy mornings, you’re in luck as the Swiss, Germans, and Austrians just love an Easter brunch. While some might spend it at home with relatives, others head to a hotel or enjoy a delicious brunch in a restaurant. Expect plenty of colourful eggs, tasty baked treats and chocolate for breakfast!

Celebrate Easter like Germans, the Swiss, and Austrians – Top 10 Traditions

Photo: Pixabay

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