Christine von Kannen-Balgar sent me this fascinating letter, answering some questions I had about Easter customs in Germany:
To answer to your e-mail:
1) I’ve never heard of a German custom of eating green eggs on Maundy (Green Thursday) [scroll down to the discussion of Green Dyes to see what Christine is referring to – Lisa].
2) In Germany the Catholics used to eat green vegetables on Green Thursday (and maybe also the Lutherans/Protestants).
Well, nowadays almost everything has changed! I shall try to explain to you about Maundy, Lent and Easter (and the Easter Bunny) in Germany.
What you are talking of was a matter of religion. In North Rhine Westphalia, where I come from, and in most parts of south Germany most people were Catholics, so is/was my family. When I was a child or young girl (and I am 63 now) we used to “lent”, which means that the children did not eat sweets. We collected all sweets we got in a big glass, and on Easter Sunday, when Lent was over, we put it into our “Easter baskets” with the other sweets and EGGS. The “Easter Bunny” brings little children eggs and all Easter sweets! I think nobody really knows where this custom came from. Though it is known that the Easter Bunny first became popular in Germany in the 16th century.
People in Germany also make Easter trees. They hollow out eggs, dye them and hang them on shrubs or trees.
Lent started on Ash Wednesday, the day after Carnival and ended on Easter Sunday (do you know that in Germany we have an “Easter Monday”, which is a holiday – no work?!).
On Green Thursday we used to eat spinach or green cabbage (it is a green kind/sort of cabbage) or brussels sprouts. Or any other green vegetable you can think of (winter vegetables – as you’ve written in your e-mail). But not eggs!
I don’t know what had been the custom in the 18th or 19th century, but since the beginning of the 20th century (my grandparents were born between 1874 – 1887) we have known this custom of green vegetables on Maundy. I never heard about eating green eggs on Maundy.
We eat eggs on Easter.
On Good Friday or Good Saturday we boil the eggs (they must be hard boiled, so that you can keep them for a few days). Then we colour them red, blue, yellow, green etc. or speckled with special “Easter Eggs Colouring”.
On Good Friday we used to eat fish or anything else, but never meat – a “law” of the Catholic Church.
So the Catholics were not allowed at all to eat meat on Fridays (according to Church Law, which is not a law given by Jesus but by the Institution of the Catholic Church!). But you might know that. As I said, custom and things change. Nowadays, almost nobody cares for that. We all eat meat on a Friday, and maybe this Church Law was given up!? I don’t know. But we still eat coloured eggs on Easter and give eggs, together with sweets, in a little basket, to children, sometimes also to adults.
Best wishes from Old Germany
Thanks for sharing information about your customs in Germany with us Christine! Many of our customs in the US are the same. I believe a lot of them came here through the Pennsylvania Dutch (German immigrants to America).
Recently, I’ve even started to see Easter trees here too. I believe that’s a new custom.
If anyone knows more about the custom of eating green Easter eggs in Germany on Green Thursday, or if you’d like to share your customs with us, feel free to comment below or email me.
This article was posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2008 at 12:45 pm and is filed under Carnival, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Easter, Easter Eggs, German, Germany, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Lent, Mama Lisa, Pennsylvania Dutch, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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