I received a message from Paul Von Stache who told me a story I’d never heard before… The legend of Osterwasser or Easter Water. He found out about it at an estate auction of an elderly woman in his hometown who originally came from Pomerania, Germany. One of the items up for auction was a brown glass gallon jug with a yellowed paper tag attached to the handle. The tag said “Oster Wasser”. Easter Water. How odd. What was Easter Water? Funny how old lost German traditions can pop up sometimes where you least expect.
Easter Water- The Legend of Osterwasser
Thanks to Paul and his research…
In some parts of Pomerania, Germany it was customary for a young un-married girl to go to the local stream and gather water on Easter morning. She must not talk to any one on the way there or the way back. Lest the water not be special. This was Easter Water.
Osterwasser must be collected before the sun touched it!
Symbolically, water means life and fertility, but this water is extra special. In the dark of Easter night girls would go in complete silence, to get Easter Water, Osterwasser from springs and streams.
Young girls went their way to the nearest clear stream in the gray early morning hours to gather the water which was supposed to bestow beauty and virtue. The way there and home again had to be paced silently. That wasn’t easy, for young boys and envious women attempted to hinder them with that, to startle them and to tempt them into idle conversation. If the girls spoke, the Easter Water would turn to desecrated, and they would have to start over.
If a girl was able to sprinkle her lover with Easter water, there would be a wedding soon.
How else was Osterwasser Used?
In earlier times it was a custom to collect and put away Easter Water for use against skin and eye ailments. One had to scoop the water from a pure, flowing brook in the earliest Easter Sunday hours before sunrise, and you shouldn’t meet or speak to anyone. Whoever washed himself on Easter Day with such water remained protected from skin and eye ailments.
Farmers would give their animals Easter Water, so they would stay healthy.
The Catholic Church would use Osterwasser… water drawn during Easter… in the Baptismal Font for the year. It is also used in Holy Water Vessels.
Is there special magic to Osterwasser?
It may have to do with getting to the stream BEFORE the water was stirred up by other people and animals….But then, a belief in magic may be a good thing. So, if you unmarried women are looking for a little help, head down to the nearest stream on Easter Sunday, and collect some water.
And believe in the magic….
Thanks again to Paul Von Stache for finding this legend for us!