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Easter

Spring at last! Time for the Easter Bunny to hop through our gardens again. With chocolate Easter bunnies and brightly coloured eggs dominating the displays in the shops, little ones with a sweet tooth are particularly happy. But if we are honest, we ask ourselves far too rarely these days: What is the origin of Easter? Where does the term come from and which Easter traditions are really traditional?

Easter 2021

Before we get into the history and traditions, we actually wanted to look at how and where Easter is celebrated in Frankfurt, as in previous years.But like last year, everything is unfortunately still different in 2021. Due to the Coronavirus, large Easter festivals, the spring Dippemess or the popular Easter bonfires have been cancelled. Also, all people are urged to do without visits to friends and relatives. Easter 2021 will also be very different from what we are used to. But hopefully, if we also exercise restraint and common sense this time around, we will soon be able to celebrate with our loved ones again!

Therefore, take advantage of digital offerings for your leisure time during the holidays as well. Prefer to videos of the city from the comfort of your sofa and have your Easter menu, as well as Easter gifts, delivered by your local restaurants and retailers.

Despite this severe crisis and uncertain times, the entire Frankfurt-Tipp team wishes you a wonderful Easter. Stay at home and most of all, stay healthy!

Where does the term Easter come from?

The term Easter probably derives from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Her festival was celebrated on the day before the vernal equinox. Others think the word "Easter" derives from "Eostro". The word means dawn and is derived from the root "ausos", which in Greek gave rise to "eos", sun, and in Latin to "aurora", dawn.

In Old High German, eostro formed into "ôstarum" and in Old English into "eastron".

Whatever the case, Easter has always played a central role in the customs of Central European tribes. The longing of the people for spring, sun and warmth, for securing the new harvest blessings made them celebrate the spring festival of the equinox with exuberance. The Christian Church merged its most important festival, the resurrection of Christ, with the spring festival of the Germanic light cult at the Council of Nicaea in 325. However, Easter is also said to have already replaced the Jewish Passover mentioned in the Bible, suggesting many similarities in customs.

So it is not surprising that the word for Easter and for Passover is similar or identical in a whole range of languages, including French, Greek, Italian and Spanish. It is therefore certain that Easter, which is celebrated today, like many other Christian festivals (e.g. Pentecost), is interspersed with pagan customs and rites. Easter, however, is synonymous with joy, gladness, and festivity in many countries.

Christian Easter

Easter, after Christmas (the birth of Jesus), is for Christians another central event of their faith through the resurrection of Jesus. Death is not seen as an end, but as a new beginning of a new life. This is to profess that life will triumph over death, truth over lies, justice over injustice, and love over hate.

In Christianity, the Easter season lasts 50 days until Pentecost.

Prior to Easter is the season of Lent also called Passion, which lasts 40 days and begins on Ash Wednesday. It commemorates the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert.

The last week before Easter is called Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.

On Maundy Thursday (the "green" comes from the Old German word "greinen", which means to weep), Christianity celebrates the Lord's Supper.

On Good Friday (Old High German " "kara", meaning lament, sorrow, mourning), Jesus' death on the cross is commemorated, on Holy Saturday there is sepulchral rest, and on Easter Sunday - according to the Bible - Jesus rose from the dead.

Based on the calculation of Easter Sunday, all other irregular holidays can be determined.

This has been true since the 1st Church Council in 325. The basis of calculation was modified by Pope Gregory XIII. (1582), who replaced the "Julian calendar" by the "Gregorian calendar" still valid today.

On St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, more than 200,000 people crowd year after year at Easter to be present when the pope, traditionally in the open air, reads the Easter Mass. At noon, the Pope delivers his Easter address to the faithful of the world. The highlight is the papal blessing "Urbi et orbi" (Latin: to the city and to the world) that follows.

Easter - Customs, Rites, Symbolism

Many rites and customs have arisen to celebrate Easter.

Easter fires are lit in the evening of the 1st day of Easter on fields and heights and shine far into the land.

Easter games have been performed in many places since ancient times. Invariably, the content of the plays is the victory of awakening life over the darkness of wintertime. The Christian mystery play of Christ's resurrection fits seamlessly with the pre-Christian spring customs that celebrated the awakening of nature with new life.

A number of Easter symbols, such as Easter eggs and the Easter bunny, existed in ancient times. Many were adopted by Christianity and are still an important part of Easter today.

1. The Easter Egg

The dominant symbol of our Easter celebration today is still the Easter egg.

Eggs are said to have been given away and eaten as fertility symbols, usually dyed red, during spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome.

Ecclesiastical egg consecration can be traced as far back as the 4th century. In this time eggs were already colorfully painted, as finds from the area of Worms show.

To distinguish them from fresh eggs, plants were added to the water. The juice of onions, spinach or beetroot thus provided the first colourful Easter eggs.

Artfully painted eggs first appeared in the 13th century.

The egg is the source of life itself and stands as a symbol for the origin of life. Boiling them at Easter probably comes from their use as currency in the 12th century. Since people traditionally paid their debts on Maundy Thursday, many eggs were saved until that day and preserved by boiling them.

The Easter egg today

The Easter egg is a chicken egg usually colored with natural vegetable dyes, sometimes painted with designs, which is traditionally given away or eaten at Easter.

Blown and often ornately painted or pasted eggs are used as decorations at Easter. Famous for their splendor and also expensive are the bejeweled Easter eggs from Fabergé.

2. The Easter Bunny

The hiding of Easter eggs dates back to the 17th century. The church consecration of red Easter eggs is first attested in 1553. In custom, the Easter Bunny is a hare that paints eggs and hides them in the garden at Easter.

The hare is a sign of fertility.

Both the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, and the Germanic goddess of fertility, Ostera, were assigned a hare as a sacred animal. The first evidence of the Easter hare dates back to 1678 and was given by Georg Franck von Franckenau, a professor of medicine from Heidelberg. The custom originated more than three hundred years ago in Alsace, the Palatinate and the Upper Rhine. In Zurich, the Easter bunny has been handed down from old records as the bringer of eggs. The timing of Easter also suggests a connection with the hare. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday of the spring full moon and the hare is considered a lunar animal.

However, the Easter bunny is not the only bringer of Easter eggs.

In Schleswig-Holstein, Upper Bavaria and Austria the cock, in the Westphalian or Hanoverian area the fox, in Switzerland the cuckoo, in Thuringia the stork was considered the bringer of the eggs.

In German folklore there are many small, mostly funny verses about the Easter bunny, such as:

Unterm tree in the green grass

Sitzt ein kleiner Osterhas'!

Trims his beard and pricks up his ear,

Makes a little man, peeps out.

Then leaps away with a bound

And a little saucy sparrow

Now looks to see what is there.

And what is it? An Easter egg!

Easter bunny, come to me,

come to our garden!

Bring us eggs, two, three, four,

don't make us wait so long!

Lay them in the green grass,

dear, good Easter bunny.

Dear good Easter bunny'

Bring us children 'something.

Red, green, yellow eggs,

for the beautiful Easter celebration.

Behind birch trees, behind beech trees,

we'll look for the eggs.

Goethe's Easter Walk

Easter was also a theme for Frankfurt's most famous son, the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Especially, of course, in the Easter Walk from Faust I. In it he states:

"Freed from ice are stream and brook

By spring's fair, invigorating glance,

In the valley greens hopeful bliss;

The old winter, in its weakness,

Retreated to rugged mountains.

From thence, fleeing, he sends only

Faint showers of granular ice

In streaks across the greening plain.

But the sun tolerates no white,

Everywhere education and aspiration stir,

Everywhere she wants to enliven with colors;

But flowers are lacking in the precinct,

She takes cleaned people for it.

Turn back from these heights

To look back upon the city!

From the hollow dark gate

There comes forth a multicolored throng.

Everyone is so fond of sunning themselves today.

They celebrate the resurrection of the Lord,

For they themselves are risen:

From low houses dull chambers,

From gangs of crafts and trades,

From the pressure of gables and roofs,

From the streets' squeezing confines,

From the churches' venerable night,

They are all brought to light.

Look, look! How nimbly the multitude

Breaks through the gardens and fields,

As the river in breadth and length

.N

So many a merry barge moves,

And, overloaded to sinking,

Removes this last barge.

Even from the mountain's distant paths

Wink at us colored garments.

I hear already the village's tumult,

Here is the people's true heaven,

Satisfied rejoice great and small:

Here am I man, here may I be!“

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I)

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