Why is the Thursday before Easter called Grünerdonnerstag in Germany?

Heiliger Donnerstag (Holy Thursday) makes sense… but why is the Thursday before Easter called Grünerdonnerstag in Germany? The word “Heilige” or “Holy” makes sense, after all, the day is an important part of the Karwoche (Holy Week). The Thursday before Easter is associated with the Last Supper and the end of Lent. The night of Jesus’s betrayal and arrest marks…

Burning Easter Wheel In Germany- UNESCO Heritage in Lüdge

Cover image by Nifoto, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsIn 784 Charlemagne visited the town of Lügde, and according to his chronicler Einhard, witnessed large oak wheels stuffed with straw, set on fire, and sent rolling down the Osterberg to greet the Spring. What an impressive sight! Burning wheels of fire careening down the hill…sparks flying all around. Although no one…

Top Oktoberfest Songs You WILL Hear at German Festivals

Music is almost as important to Oktoberfest as Beer. (I said ALMOST). So if you are headed to an Oktoberfest… or you are hosting your own Oktoberfest Party… you can be certain that music, singing and even dancing will be involved. But what sort of music will you hear? These are the TOP Oktoberfest Songs that you will most likely…

Christmas Eve Dinner in Germany – Würstchen mit Kartoffelsalat?

In the Netflix series “Over Christmas” (Über Weihnachten), the Christmas Eve Dinner is Würstchen und Kartoffelsalat (Sausages and Potato Salad). The Oma complains, saying that it’s also just the regular Thursday meal at her Old Age Home. But as her daughter points out, it’s Tradition, that’s what they’ve ALWAYS had, in fact OMA used to serve it. Truth is, a…

Spekulatius Truffles- An easy and delicious Christmas Treat

A few years ago I started making simple Truffles around the Holidays as little gifts and to help corners of my Bunter Teller. Making these rich (and I mean REALLY RICH) Spekulatius Truffles doesn’t take that much time, and it’s easy to find helpers since everyone loves playing with the chocolate. You can even get the little ones in your…

Ostara and Easter- A Legend that May be Younger than You Think

While digging in to stories about Easter in Germany, I frequently come across references to the Germanic pagan goddess Ostara. In fact, Ostara and Easter appear to be so entwined, that even the word Ostern (Easter) comes from this goddess of Spring. And sources attribute many of the non-religious Easter symbols like eggs and rabbits directly to her. So, I…

German Easter Candy and Sweets to Fill Your Easter Basket

When I was young, we looked forward to receiving packages from my Opa a few times a year. Brown paper wrapped packages, tied up with string (actually twine… but Julie Andrews never mentions twine in her song). They came at Christmas (in the odd year he didn’t visit), our Birthdays, and Easter. After Mama carefully untied the knots and saved…

Sorbian Easter Eggs- How are they made, and who are the Sorbs?

  Some of the most beautifully decorated Easter Eggs that I’ve ever seen are Sorbian Easter Eggs. My mother introduced us to them when we were children, and she remembered them from her childhood. You see, my Opa, her father, is from Weißwasser… a town in eastern Saxony, Germany, a town that once belonged to Upper Lusatia or Upper Sorbia. While my family…

Sternsinger in Germany – Children helping Children with Song

Cover image Thomas Guffler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons Sternsinger der Katholischen Propsteigemeinde “St. Peter und Paul” Dessau mit dem Oberbürgermeister von Dessau-Roßlau, Klemens Koschig, vor dem Rathaus   In the days leading up to January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, you might see groups of children dressed in robes and wearing a crown going house to house.…

Rauhnächte- In Germany, it’s the Time Between the Years

My mother’s Oma refused to do laundry during the Twelve Days of Christmas. To me, this makes perfect sense, the Christmas Season is just so busy… who wants to do laundry? But the reason goes deeper, to the legends of the Rauhnacht.  The Rauhnächte, the time between the years, are a time when old memories carry out traditions from pagan…

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