The German tradition of the
Making Easter eggs with natural dye
How Did the Easter Bunny get from Germany to the United States
A celebration of spring herb soup served on the Thursday before Easter.
How Did the Easter Bunny get from Germany to the United States
In pagan times, the "Easter hare" was no ordinary animal, but a sacred companion of the old goddess of spring, Eostre.
The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.
Since long before Jesus Christ was born, parents told their children that the magic hare would bring them presents at the spring festival. The presents were often painted eggs, as these represented the new life starting at this time of year
." Hares are animals which look like rabbits, but are larger and in many countries quite rare. In most places, the Easter rabbit (bunny) has replaced the Easter hare completely.
The bunny was first used as a symbol of Easter in 16th century Germany , where it was first mentioned in German writings. The first edible Easter bunnies, made primarily of pastry and sugar, were produced in Germany as well, during the early 1800s. Also in Germany , children made nests of grass and placed them in their yards. They believed the Easter Bunny would fill these baskets with brightly decorated eggs during the night.
The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.
Thus the custom of making nests also spread to America . Children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.
This is a follow up to "Recipes from a German Grandma' a full biography of Emma Block from growing up in Germany to coming over here as a young adult and living as a German-American in the early and mid 1900's.
Karen Kinnane last year went to Kleinzerbst, Germany and talks about the German Osterbaums that decorate many villages
Karen writes...Germany is very festive, so many homes in the villages including Kleinzerbst have "Easter egg trees" inside and outside the houses. Inside they often use forsythia branches and in time the "trees" sprout yellow flowers, plus the blown out and decorated colored eggs.
Anne and her Mother used to dye the eggs with home made colors, blowing out the eggs for the shells for the Ostern tree decorations, and using the bent wood match with the string through the egg shell out the smaller hole at the top of the eggshell in order to hang them from the ostern tree after dyeing them with the natural dyes: purple red from beets, yellow from onion skins, green from the stinging nettles of which I don't know the German name or the American name as we have them here at the edge between the fields and the woods. You don't want to touch this plant because it stings your bare skin, makes it itch, NOT POISON IVY! They boiled the organic material and then boiled the eggs in the colored water.
Making Easter Eggs with Natural Dye
Here is a nice colored egg that I made by boiling yellow onion skins. I was very pleased with the nice goldish yellow color.
Simmer the onion skins in some water to get the nice color for the dye.
Wash the egg to get anything off that might keep the dye from setting. Use a small nail or needle and twist carefully till it goes through the shell.Turn the egg over and repeat.
Blow out one end of the shell over a bowl, and the egg will come out.
I put the egg in the simmering yellow dye. Add a little salt or a tablespoon of vinegar as a "mordant" which is something that will help set the dye.
Light Reddish Egg
Here is one made with Beets
Just chop up fresh beets and boil
Bright Purple Egg
Put blueberries in a food processor
Simmer 1 1/2 cups of water with turmeric for 2 minutes.
The history behind this soup's name is an interesting one. The Thursday before Easter is often called Gründonnerstag in Germany. However in this case, grün , or green, is a modern day corruption of an old, medieval word, greinen , which means to cry. In Christian tradition, the Thursday before Easter is the day on which Christ held the Last Supper and was later betrayed. The medieval word greinen marked this day as one of sorrow for Christ's eventual martyrdom. Maundy is a word that meant something similar to "begging". Today, despite the origin of the day's name, many Germans eat green meals on Gründonnerstag.
I have seen some recipes that call for 7 herbs and some that call for 9.
The nine has to do with and ancient tradition that it should be 3 x the divine number 3.
Some of the herbs that are used are spinach, parsley, leeks, chives, dandelion and sorrel. I have also seen Mugwort, Nettle, Watercress, Daisies and Dandelion.
Here is another use for your dandelions greens, in this soup!
As one German author put it According to ancient tradition, If one or the other herbs is not palpable, we may substitute, for "Traditions are like street lamps. They show the way, but only a drunkard clings to her!" (P. Werner)
All the herbs are noted for different medicinal purposes as well, and meant to help you get through the year healthy.
The leftover soup can be used as a sauce and served with hard boiled egg halves, or as a topping for asparagus.
Children bringing in the new Spring by eating Grundonnerstagsuppe with some crusty bread, and fresh flowers on the table!
A German tradition is the Easter Fire (Osterfeuer)
n Germany, the Easter bonfires can trace their origin as a custom back to the 16th Century but probably date back to pre-Christian times. The light from the fire symbolically represents the driving-out of winter and the coming of warmth. The practice is also supposed to increase the fertility of fields. In the Christian tradition the Easter bonfire is a sign of the resurrection of Christ.
In Germany, each village collects their tree trimmings on Holy Saturday. As you can imagine, when a WHOLE village makes a brush pile, its pretty big! They make a flag and stick it on top of their brush pile, and then "guard" it Saturday night from neighboring village kids who would try and take it. They then burn the fire Easter Sunday.
Since many of our family and friends work on Easter Monday, we will have our fire the following Friday night, April 5th @ 7:30pm. (Weather Permitting!) Our fire will celebrate both the resurrection of our Lord and the coming of Spring!
We hope to see many of you, and yes, feel free to bring your brush to add to the pile...the site will be where the Frankenmuth Corn Maze is...across the road from Weiss Centennial Farm.
The 12th Annual Tomball German Heritage Festival will be March 30, 31, & April 1
located on the Old Downtown Streets of Tomball Texas near 201 S. Elm Street, Main Street (FM 2920), and Market Street. It is a Music/Street festival celebrating German and ethnic heritage with 4 stages of live music entertainment "happy music for happy people", ethnic and festival food, beer, wine, 150 street vendors, all kinds of German souvenirs and clothing, arts crafts, antiques, Heritage Center, German church service, fireworks, carnival, pony ride, petting zoo, strolling music makers, street performers, and much more. Like Oktoberfest in March! Huge fun for the whole family! You do not have to be German to enjoy this festival. It is fun for everyone, and there is no admission or parking fees.