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 © 2002-2017 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

decorated Easter eggs

Colorful, decorated eggs (verzierte Eier) like these are very popular during the Easter season in Germany. PHOTO: Alie C.

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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, see dates below)
»» Himmelfahrt, die  Ascension (of Christ)


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

OSTERFEIERTAGE • Daten 2017-2021
Dates of the Easter celebrationFrom Mardi Gras to Pentecost
Fasching (Mardi Gras)
Shrove Tuesday
28. Februar 2017
13. Februar 2018
5. März 2019
25. Februar 2020
16. Februar 2021
For more about Mardi Gras (Fasching) in German-speaking Europe, see: Fasching and Karneval.
(Ash Wednesday)
1. März 2017
14. Februar 2018
6. März 2019
26. Februar 2020
17. Februar 2021
Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday) 9. April 2017
25. März 2018
18. April 2019
5. April 2020
28. März 2021
Karfreitag (Good Friday) 14. April 2017
30. März 2018
18. April 2019
10. April 2020
2. April 2021
Ostern (Easter) 16. April 2017*
1. April 2018
21. April 2019
12. April 2020
4. April 2021
Christi Himmelfahrt
(Ascension Day)
25. Mai 2017
20. Mai 2018
30. Mai 2019
21. Mai 2020
13. Mai 2021
Pfingsten (Pentecost) 4. Juni 2017
20. Mai 2018
9. Juni 2019
31. Mai 2020
23. Mai 2021
*As in 2010, 2011 and 2014, for Easter in 2017 both the Eastern and Western churches will observe the holiday 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

More on The German Way
Eggs on trees – 5 favourite German Easter traditions
Spring has sprung, officially
Two German Way Expat Blog posts about Easter and 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.

Easter fountain

An Easter fountain or well (Osterbrunnen) in Marbach am Neackar. PHOTO: Alie C.


Osterbrunnen, der (-) Easter well/fountain (see photo above)
Osterei, das (-er) Easter egg
Osterfeiertag, der Easter celebration/holiday
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
Ostermontag, der Easter Monday
Ostern, das (-) Easter
»» an/zu Ostern at Easter
»» an Ostern on Easter (Day)
»» Frohe Ostern! Happy Easter!
»» Ein frohes Osterfest! Happy Easter!
Osterstrauch, der (-sträucher) Easter egg tree/branch
Osterwoche, die (-n) Easter week


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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