Easter Water- The Legend of Osterwasser

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



This custom takes place in Pomerania, but it’s also a custom with the Sorbs in the Spreewald.

On Easter morning before dawn young un-married girl walked to the nearest clear stream and gathered water in a jug.  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.

Easter water was said to bestow beauty and virtue on the girl who could complete the task. But perhaps more important for some young ladies,  if a girl was able to sprinkle her lover with Easter water, they would marry soon.

Easter Watter

Osterwasser must be collected  before the sun touched it!  Symbolically, water means life and fertility, but this water is extra special.

Liebig German easter customs Collecting OsterwasserLiebig German easter customs Collecting OsterwasserLiebig German easter customs Collecting Osterwasser

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.

Osterwasser Schnapps easter water

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….

Today the legend has taken on a new meaning. It is customary to drink a Schnapps with friends, family and neighbors on Easter Morning, and call it Osterwasser.

Thanks again to Paul Von Stache for finding this legend for us!


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Easter Water- The Legend of Osterwasser

4 thoughts on “Easter Water- The Legend of Osterwasser

  1. Yes, I have myself collected Osterwasser with my grandfather. He and my grandmother were born and raised in Western Pomerania, before resettling to Prussia.

    All very true what you are writing, thank you for teaching and preserving the Easter traditions! Wishing you and offsprings, friends and colleagues a happy peaceful Easter 2023. From Germany, with luve…😇

  2. We have the story of Osterwasser in our Wendish museum in Serbin, Texas. Some of the older people in the area remember collecting Osterwasser. My family never did that but I think it is a delightful tradition. Thank you for sharing and teaching about our German/Wendish traditions. Have a blessed Easter!

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