Happy Eostre!

Posted by | March 29, 2013

One can hardly talk about Easter traditions in Appalachia without referencing German traditions, since the region is so heavily settled by immigrants from that country. The first known reference to the Easter hare and its eggs appears to be German, in a book dating from 1572: “Do not worry if the Hare escapes you; should we miss his eggs, then we shall cook the nest.” The Easter hare (or Osterhase), was once regarded by the Germans as a sacred animal.

The Easter basket tradition also has its roots in the German folklore of the Easter hare. The day before Easter some German children in Swabia make little nests of straw, moss or twigs, known as the “Hare’s Garden” (Hasengärtle), so that the Easter hare will know where to leave his eggs when he makes his deliveries during the night. Residents of Odenwald put a miniature house covered with moss in the garden and children are told that the Easter hare will come & put colored eggs in it.

easter bunnyIn German households there is spring cleaning and decorations are brought into the home, budding twigs, crocuses and daffodils – which are known as Easter bells (Osterglocken) in Germany, willow and birch, the first shoots of grasses, or wheat sprouts. Easter trees, small trees or branches, decorated with eggs, have long been a part of German Easter celebration.

German settlers brought these traditions to the United States in the 18th century, and by the 19th century the Easter hare had become the Easter bunny, delighting children with baskets of eggs, chocolates, candy, jelly beans and other gifts on Easter morning.

Eostre, or Eastre, was the Teutonic Goddess of Fertility. Her symbol is the egg, symbolizing fertility in nature and rebirth from the long winter months. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the Vernal Equinox (spring).

According to the 8th century Benedictine monk Venerable Bede, writing in Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, the name Easter is derived from the Norse Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German name for Easter is ‘Ostern.’ In myth Ostara is said to have amused children by turning her bird into a rabbit, the rabbit then laying colored eggs much to the delight of the children. Bede described the worship of Ostara among the Anglo-Saxons as having died out by the time he began writing.

sources: www.accuracyingenesis.com/happy.html
www.germany.info/relaunch/info/missions/consulates/sanfrancisco/Eastern.htm
www.wiccaweb.org.uk/eastre.html
An Egg at Easter: A Folklore Study By Venetia Newall, Routledge, 1971

One Response

  • Hello, I am from Nuremberg, Frankonian in Germany, and my children always made Hasengärtle, when they were young. So I am very astonished and amused to read it here.

    Happy Easter wishes, Sieglinde Graf

Leave a Reply


3 − 1 =

↑ Back to top

This collection is copyright ©2006-2014 by Dave Tabler. All visuals are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107) and remain the property of copyright owners. Site Design by Amaru Interactive