Weeks before Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, falling on April 12 and 13, shops in Germany are decorated with Easter memorabilia, and German Easter candy like chocolate bunnies and candied Easter eggs can be bought.
German Easter Traditions
In German homes, it is customary to decorate a bush outside the house or twigs inside with Easter eggs. These can be store-bought, decorated eggs or blown eggs colored and decorated at home. The latter is a fun activity especially for children. Small children can just use felt pens to draw on the eggs, whereas older children can first dip eggs in a color solution, let them dry, and then decorate them further.
The night before Easter Sunday, many communities organize Easter fires – huge bonfires that date back to pre-Christian times when they were used to drive out (“burn”) the winter. Come Easter Sunday, it is time for all children to go on an Easter egg hunt, which can be inside or outside, depending on the weather.
For those living in Germany, keep in mind that Good Friday and Easter Monday are public German holidays, so make sure to buy Easter supplies and groceries well before the long weekend. Also, before going on vacation, do check when Easter school holidays start and end to avoid traffic jams – in 2017, they fall between March 30th and April 21st.
German Easter Vocabulary
Below is a short German Easter glossary with some of the standard German Easter greetings and vocabulary associated with Easter. Note that one wishes Happy Easter in English and Frohe Ostern in German – watch the placement of the “n” and don’t make it Eastern and Oster.
Osterwünsche – Easter Greetings
- Frohe Ostern! – Happy Easter!
- Frohes Osterfest! – Happy Easter celebrations!
- Frohes Ostereiersuchen! – Happy Easter egg hunt!
Osterfeiertage – Easter holidays
- Karfreitag – Good Friday
- Karsamstag – Holy Saturday
- Ostersonntag –Easter Sunday
- Ostermontag – Easter Monday
- Osterfest – Easter celebration
- Osterferien – Easter (school) holidays
Rund ums Ei – All about Easter eggs
- der Osterbaum – Easter tree (usually a bush or twigs)
- das Osterei – Easter egg
- die Ostereier – Easter eggs
- die Ostereierfarben – Easter egg colors
- das Osterfeuer – Easter bonfire
- der Osterhase – Easter bunny
- Ostereier verstecken – hiding Easter eggs
- Ostereier bemalen – coloring Easter eggs (with a brush, etc.)
- Ostereier färben – coloring Easter eggs (by dipping them in colors)
- Schokoladenostereier – chocolate Easter eggs
- Glaubst du an den Osterhasen? – Do you believe in the Easter bunny?
Wishing Happy Easter in German
When writing to someone in German, remember to use the formal address Sie or its inflected forms Ihnen, Ihre and Ihrer for colleagues, acquaintances and generally anyone not known well.
Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihrer Familie ein frohes Osterfest! – Wishing you and your family happy Easter celebrations.
Ich wünsche Ihnen frohe Ostern! – Wishing you happy Easter!
When writing to family and friends, use the informal address Du or its inflected forms Dir, Deine and Deiner:
Ich wünsche Dir und Deiner Familie ein frohes Osterfest! – Wishing you and your family happy Easter celebrations.
Ich wünsche Dir Frohe Ostern! – Wishing you happy Easter!
Practice makes perfect and there are still quite a few days left until Easter. Build advanced sentences by combining any of the words in this article with German colors and shapes or days, months and seasons in German. Or what about counting in German, maybe Easter eggs?