There may be a forecast for snow for next week but the spring equinox means the days are now longer than the nights. Easter is just around the corner and with it one of my favourite traditions. In addition to these five favourites from Chloe, the Osterbrunnen (Easter fountains/wells), which appear mostly in Catholic Southern Germany, are also an important part of the Easter in Germany.
This tradition has spread from Franconia (the Northern part of Bavaria) and historically involves celebrating the importance of water as the giver of life, possibly due to previous shortages in remote villages. Any (and occasionally all) of a towns water sources are likely to be decorated from early April until a couple of weeks after Easter.
Traditionally arches of evergreen adorned with colourful eggs will surround the water. Some fountains still use real blown eggs but the fragility can sometimes have its limitations, hail and vandalism being the two main drawbacks, so plastic eggs are being used with more frequency nowadays. A Verein (local club) is generally responsible for the Brunnen putzen (fountain cleaning), design and decoration; local schools also paint eggs to be featured on the fountain. I love looking at all the imaginative designs; you’ll find football team logos and penguins right beside the more traditional religious and floral motifs.
Coach tours in the Fränkische Schweiz (franconian Switzerland) to visit local Osterbrunnen are incredibly popular with German speaking tourists. This can mean that the well known fountains can be swamped by large crowds at the weekends and over the Easter break. The area also boasts great hiking, castles and the world’s highest density of private breweries.
The two-time Guinness World record winning Osterbrunnen can be found in Bieberbach, Bavaria. This tiny village is visited by over 30,000 tourists at Easter, who come mostly in group tours to wonder at the over 11000 hand painted eggs which grace the central village fountain.The scale is something to behold. The towns of Forchheim and Ebermannstadt are home to some of my other favourites, and plenty more can be seen on the routes between the two.
The tradition has increased in popularity in recent years and here in Baden Württemberg you will also find a fountains bedecked with ribbons, eggs and evergreen, like the one above which appears in the market square of Marbach am Neckar. The largest is found in Schechingen, showcases 10000 eggs and boasts of being the loveliest. I’m looking forward to seeing it in person this year.
Most homes will house some form of Oster Deco (Easter decorations), mostly consisting of eggs hung on a shrub in the garden or a couple of branches inside the house. Plastic eggs are as common as hand blown and delicately decorated ones, though if you are looking to pick up some keepsakes and unusual eggs an Easter market is worth taking a look around. Every egg is utilised from finch sized to ostrich and more hardwearing glass, stone and ceramic versions are also available.