- How to Say ‘Happy Easter’ in German
- Important Easter Dates
- German Easter Traditions
Easter is one of the most important holidays in German speaking countries. Not only is it a religious festival, many non-religious people use it as a time to celebrate the start of Spring. It’s common to wish someone a ‘happy Easter’ in German on Easter Sunday, but there are many more Easter traditions to discover.
After reading this post you will know:
- How to say ‘happy Easter’ in German
- All the important Easter dates & their German names
- Easter traditions in Germany, Austria & Switzerland
How to Say ‘Happy Easter’ in German
Meaning: Happy Easter
When it comes to learning how to say ‘happy Easter’ in German, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The easiest and most common way is to say frohe Ostern.
Frohe comes from the adjective froh, which means ‘merry’, ‘gladly’ and ‘joyous’. And Ostern is the German word for Easter.
Frohe Ostern auch dir
Meaning: Happy Easter to you too
If someone says frohe Ostern to you, you can either respond with the same phrase, frohe Ostern, or you can say frohe Ostern auch dir, literally ‘happy Easter also to you’.
If you’re speaking to someone formally you can make this a formal phrase by changing dir to Ihnen: frohe Ostern auch Ihnen.
Ich wünsche Ihnen ein frohes Osterfest
Meaning: I wish you a happy Easter festival
If you’re looking for a longer, more formal way to say ‘happy Easter’ in German, you can say ich wünsche Ihnen ein frohes Osterfest. This is a formal phrase since we’ve used the formal form of ‘you’, Ihnen.
You can also change this to an informal phrase by changing Ihnen to dir: ich wünsche dir ein frohes Osterfest.
Important Easter Dates
One of the things many Germans enjoy about Easter is the extra time off work. Both Karfreitag (Good Friday) and Ostermontag (Easter Monday) are public holidays, so Germans can look forward to a 4-day weekend.
- Gründonnerstag (Maundy Thursday)
- Karfreitag (Good Friday)
- Karsamstag (Easter Saturday)
- Ostersonntag (Easter Sunday)
- Ostermontag (Easter Monday)
While the whole Easter period is an important time for Christians, Easter Sunday is the ‘main’ Easter day, when people attend church and children go on Easter egg hunts. Easter Sunday is usually the day you would wish someone a ‘happy Easter’ in German.
German Easter Traditions
Easter in German speaking countries is a combination of the Christian festival, mixed with the Pagan festival Frühlingsfest (Spring festival). Not only do we have the religious dates listed previously, but we also see traditions involving eggs and bunnies, both symbols or Spring, fertility and rebirth.
As such, individual German Easter traditions vary depending on whether or not the person celebrating it is religious.
In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the more common German Easter Traditions.
Spring Cleaning (Osterputz)
While not strictly an Easter tradition, is a common occurrence during Spring, as who doesn’t love to have a good clear out in preparation for the coming year. The feeling of a fresh start as Spring awakens can’t be beat.
Easter Eggs (Ostereier)
Easter eggs are a tradition that almost everyone in the West knows about. This tradition actually originated in Germany and comes from Pagan customs where eggs were symbols of birth and fertility.
Eggs are often painted in bright colours and used for decoration around the house in baskets or on the Osterbaum (Easter tree). Children will often hunt for Easter eggs hidden around the garden or house.
Easter Bunny (Osterhase)
The Easter Bunny (or Easter hare in German) is another Easter custom which originated in Germany. The story of how the Osterhase came to be varies, but it certainly is a symbol of Spring and fertility.
Traditionally the Osterhase brings and hides the coloured Easter eggs for children to hunt for.
Easter Tree (Osterbaum) / Easter Bouquet (Osterstrauch)
The Easter tree (placed outdoors) and the Easter bouquet / bush (placed indoors) are decorated with colourful eggs. Either an outside (real) tree is selected and decorated, or a handmade bouquet of twigs and branches is made and placed indoors. This bouquet the then adorned with coloured eggs.
Easter Markets (Ostermärkte)
Just like the world famous Christmas markets, much of Germany, Austria and Switzerland host traditional Easter markets. These are similar to their well-known counterparts, but of course themed with Easter eggs, chocolate, flowers, decorations and gifts. Generally they run for a week or two before Easter.
Easter Festival (Volksfest zu Ostern)
What can I say, Germans love a good festival, and Easter is no different. You’ll find Easter festivals all over Germany for a couple of weeks during the Easter period. These festivals normally involve amusement rides and plenty of food and drink.
Easter Bonfire (Osterfeuer)
The Easter Bonfire is a tradition going back hundreds of years in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It is part of the Christian Easter tradition, symbolising the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It also has roots in Germanic Pagan rituals long before Christianity. The Pagan Easter bonfires usher in Spring and banish the Winter.
While Easter bonfires are a popular social event, they have recently come under scrutiny due to worries for the environmental impact from environmentally conscious Germany.
So now you know all the different ways to say ‘happy Easter’ in German, plus important Easter dates to put in your calendar and a fantastic array of German Easter traditions. Will you adopt any of these traditions yourself? I’m going to create an Osterstrauch this year.