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Archive for the 'Easter' Category

Gr√ľndonnerstag

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Gr√ľndonnerstag is the German name for Maundy Thursday.¬† It is the day before Karfreitag.

On this day, people go to Church to be freed of their sins in order to make a “clean” start for Easter, thus leading to one explanation of the name: the idea is that “green wood” is said to be fresh.

Another reason for the name may be that it is the end of the fasting season, and people used to eat mainly vegetables on this day.

It is a normal working day, although many people do take the day off to go away for a long weekend.

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Osterfeuer

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

An Osterfeuer is a bonfire that is lit on the evening of Easter Saturday, usually in connection with a Church service.

Different parts of Germany associate the fire with different traditions.  In Bavaria it is also called the Judasfeuer and a straw figure, similar to a guy, is burnt upon the fire representing Judas Iscariot.  In Westfalia it is said to banish the winter.

Some churches have a candle-light service on Saturday evening rather than a fire.

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Osterhase

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Osterhase is the name given in Germany to the Easter Bunny.

The tradition, which dates back to the 17th Century, says that the Osterhase decorates eggs at Easter and hides them in people’s gardens, although the practise became more common in the 20th Century.

Children go out into the garden on Easter Sunday and look for the eggs.

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Osterei

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

An Osterei is an Easter Egg, and can refer to different types of eggs.  There are boiled eggs that have been coloured, blown-out egg-shells that have been decorated, and chocolate eggs that often have fillings inside them.

As in many countries, the eggs represent the spring and fertility, and is a tradition that goes back to the 13th Century, even though the term “Osterei” was probably first used in the 17th Century.

Many people hang decorated eggs on twigs in their front gardens.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Aschermittwoch

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Aschermittwoch is the German name for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Although it is not a public holiday, most companies will allow their employees time off during the day to go to church, if they wish to.

At church, people are blessed with a cross on the forehead made from the ashes of last year’s palm leaves.

This is also the day on which the policital parties hold their regional meetings.  The use them to plan for the coming political year, and also to critise the policies of their opponents.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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