Easter: German-English Vocabulary


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Easter | Spring | Frühling | Ostern | Osterhase | Osterei

An Annotated German-English Glossary of Easter Terms
In this annotated German-English glossary, you’ll find vocabulary and facts related to the Easter celebration and springtime customs in German-speaking Europe.


Tulpen – Tulips PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Also see the English-German version of this glossary and the Easter Greetings section below.

adj. (adjective), adv. (adverb), lit. (literary), n. (noun), pl. (plural), sl. (slang), v. (verb), vul. (vulgar)

Glossary Copyright © 2002-2016 Hyde Flippo


Auferstehung, die  the Resurrection (of Christ)

Aschermittwoch, der  Ash Wednesday
»» The Wednesday after Carnival/Mardi Gras, when Lent begins, also marks the start of the Easter cycle. Aschermittwoch gets its name from the ashes of burnt palm fronds from the previous Palm Sunday – used to mark the foreheads of the faithful.


bemalen (v.) to decorate, paint (eggs)
»» bemalte Eier, verzierte Eier decorated eggs
»» Ostereier bemalen to decorate Easter eggs

die Blume (-n) flower(s)

bunt  colorful

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Christ, Christi, Christus (all der) Christ
»» The term Christ comes from the Greek “christos” for the Hebrew “messiah” or “anointed one” (der Gesalbte).
Christentum, das Christianity

Christi Himmelfahrt  Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
»» Himmelfahrt, die  Ascension (of Christ)


Ei, das (-er) egg(s)
Eierschale, die (-n) egg shell

OSTERFEIERTAGE • Daten 2014-2017
Dates of the Easter celebrationFrom Mardi Gras to Pentecost
Fasching (Mardi Gras)
Shrove Tuesday
4. März 2014
17. Februar 2015
9. Februar 2016
28. Februar 2017
For more about Mardi Gras (Fasching) in German-speaking Europe, see: Fasching and Karneval.
(Ash Wednesday)
5. März 2014
18. Februar 2015
10. Februar 2016
1. März 2017
Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday) 13. April 2014
29. März 2015
20. März 2016
9. April 2017
Karfreitag (Good Friday) 18. April 2014
3. April 2015
25. April 2016
14. April 2017
Ostern (Easter) 20. April 2014*
5. April 2015
27. März 2016
16. April 2017
Christi Himmelfahrt
(Ascension Day)
29. Mai 2014
14. Mai 2015
5. Mai 2016
25. Mai 2017
Pfingsten (Pentecost) 8. Juni 2014
24. Mai 2015
15. Mai 2016
4. Juni 2017
*As in 2010, 2011 and 2014, the date for Easter in 2017 marks an unusual event: Both the Eastern and Western churches will celebrate Easter on the same date, despite having different methods for calculating the date.


färben (v.) to dye, color (eggs, Ostereier)
»» gefärbte Eier colored/dyed eggs

Fasching, der, Fastnacht, die Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday
»» The date for Fasching/Fastnacht depends on the date of Easter.

Faschingsdienstag, der, Fastnachtsdienstag, der Shrove Tuesday

Fastenzeit, die  Lent, the Lenten season
»» Lent, the 40-day Fastenzeit, begins on Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch) and ends at Easter (Ostern).
Frohe Ostern!  Happy Easter!

Frühling, der, Frühjahr, das spring


Grab Christi, das Christ’s grave, tomb

Glossary continues below…


Ostergrüße (Easter Greetings)
If you’d like to send someone Easter greetings or eine Osterkarte (an Easter card) in German, here are some suggested phrases and sentiments you can use.

Frohes Osterfest! Happy Easter! (“happy easter celebration”)
Frohe Ostern! Happy Easter!
Österliche Grüße von… Easter greetings from… (your name)

Herzliche Ostergrüße! Viel Spaß beim Eiersuchen!
Heartfelt/Warmest Easter greetings! Have fun with your (Easter) egg hunt.
Wir wünschen euch von Herzen ein frohes Osterfest und sonnige Frühlingstage!
We wish you (all) sincerely a happy Easter celebration and sunny spring days!
Zu Ostern wünsche ich dir stressfreie Tage und viel Erfolg bei der Eiersuche.
For Easter I wish you stress-free days and good luck (“much success”) hunting for eggs.
Ein frohes und gesegnetes Osterfest! Wir wünschen euch viele bunte Eier und erholsame Feiertage!
A happy and blessed Easter! We wish you (all) many colorful eggs and restful holidays!


Häschen, das (-); Hase, der (Hasen) bunny (bunnies)
»» The Easter bunny is a hare (der Osterhase). A rabbit is das Kaninchen. Another word for bunny rabbit is das Karnickel.
»» The Osterhase tradition dates back to a 1678 account by the German medical professor Georg Franck.

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Jesus von Nazareth (pron. YEH-ZUS) Jesus of Nazareth


Karfreitag, der Good Friday
Karsamstag, der Easter Saturday, Good Saturday
Karwoche, die Holy Week, Passion Week (the week before Easter Sunday)
»» The Friday before Easter commemorates the day of Christ’s Crucifixion. The week leading up to Easter (Holy Week, Passion Week) is known as Karwoche.

Kreuz, das (-e) cross
kreuzigen (v.) to crucify
Kreuzigung, die (-en) crucifixion

Kruzifix, das  crucifix

Küken, das (-)  chick, baby chicken

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Lilie, die (-n) lily (lilies)


Mariä Himmelfahrt Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (15. August)
Maria Magdalene Mary Magdalene

Also see the English-German version of this glossary.


Osterei, das (-er) Easter egg
Osterferien, die (pl.) Easter holiday, vacation
Osterfest, das paschal festival, Easter
»» See Passahfest below for more.
Osterfeuer, das (-) Easter bonfire, Easter fire
»» The Easter bonfire custom is popular in some regions of Germany, mostly in the Northwest. But Easter fires are also found in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and parts of Austria and Switzerland. The fires take place after dark on various days of the Easter celebration, depending on the region.
Osterglocke, die (-n) daffodil (“Easter bell”)

Ostergottesdienst, der (-e) Easter service
Osterhase, das (-n) Easter bunny
Osterkarte, die (-n) Easter card
Osterlamm, das  paschal lamb
Ostermesse, die (-n) Easter mass

Ostern, das (-) Easter
»» an/zu Ostern at Easter
»» an Ostern  on Easter (Day)
»» Frohe Ostern!  Happy Easter!
»» Ein frohes Osterfest!  Happy Easter!


Palme, die (-n)  palm, palm tree
Palmsonntag, der Palm Sunday
»» The Sunday before Easter gets its name from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (der Einzug Jesu in Jerusalem) when palm branches were strewn before him.
Palmwedel, der palm frond

Papst, der the pope

Passah, das paschal festival, Passover
Passahfest, das paschal festival, Passover
»» The terms “paschal” and Passah– are derived from Hebrew Pesach and Greek Pascha — and are related to the Jewish Passover.

Passahmahl, das  Passover meal (Seder)

Petersplatz, der St. Peter’s Square (in the Vatican)

Pfingsten, das Pentecost, Whitsun
»» The 50th day after Easter or Passover. (Der 50. Tag nach Ostern.) The seventh Sunday (Whitsunday) after Easter commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (die Herabkunft des Heiligen Geistes auf die Apostel).


Rom, das Rome
Römer, die (pl.) the Romans


Tulpe, die (-n) tulip

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