The German word for easter is Ostern, which should be easy to figure out, because east is Ost. I do not know what “east” has to do with this religious day and do not plan to seek the answer. The whole affair is suspect...
Germans celebrate this festival by decorating trees with colored eggs or flowering branches (Japanese cherry, forsythia, pussy willow--okay, so it’s not a flower, the branch serves the purpose). A few even attend church service...
The first hyacinths have managed to make an appearance.
These always bring back memories of my childhood church torture. I recall such flowers gracing the church around Easter time. This was the time when each child received a scraggly palm frond, which we surely did not understand. I vaguely recall something about someone riding on a donkey.
Strange how the fragrance of this flower brings back memories of being coerced into clothes unsuitable for my favorite pastimes: climbing trees and playing in the dirt. I had no interest in flowers...
You’ve heard about events being rained out. Well, I was rained out a country. The weather pendulum swung back to cold and wet. I awoke to find low hanging clouds and pouring rain outside the window. I guess I should be pleased to have had one day of sunshine.
Ladies promenading their Easter finery along Lake Annecy--and other lakes--will be forced to wear a rain coat and carry an umbrella. What might have been a pleasant long weekend will be filled with moaning about the weather. The only happy campers will be those having planned a ski trip. Fresh snow has fallen on the higher altitudes.
I--who have no desire to ski--fall into the moaning category, which will do as soon as return home...where snow is forecast.
The word for today is Osterei, which means Easter egg.
Easter is still a few weeks away, but many Germans anticipate the big day by hanging colorful eggs on trees in the garden or on branches in a vase in the living or dining room. Branches can be from a forsythia, pussy willow, or cherry tree, to signify the coming of Spring. Nice eggs are hand-painted shells, which have been relieved of their original contents; plastic ones are usually used outside.
Like many practices at Christmas, this surely has pagan roots. And, Christians have settled into a ready-made nest and made a home for themselves. I am not sure what East has to do with Easter (the bits have the same meaning in German: Ost = East and Oster = Easter). The three kings of Christmas fame arrived from that direction, but if I do not recall them hanging around until the crucifixion. Religions are confusing enough, but the history is clouded by so much myth, pilferage, and copying. That’s what makes a colorful egg hanging on a branch so easy to appreciate...
It’s a big day in some parts of the world. How can I not comment?
Because this country has a long-standing relationship with Rome (after all, it was the original seat of the Holy Roman Empire, before it was chopped up start the internecine squabbling forum known today as “Europe”), Christian celebrations are marked by national holidays. Without these free days during the year, Germans would work even more (or have to have more vacation days legislated). Anyways, I can enjoy a nice quiet Sunday at home, like 80 to 90% of the rest of the population of this country of religious refusniks. Few, if any, feel compelled to impress their neighbors with church attendance, unlike in another country I know.
As a child, I was dragged to church each and every Sunday, plus Christmas, which had the bad habit of frequently occurring on other days of the week. I could have spent those hours much more productively, either outside getting dirty or inside teasing my siblings. Church was so restrictive to youthful vigor.
The only lasting effect of Easter Sunday incarceration is an appreciation for the fragrance of hyacinths, which had always decked the halls. There must have been daffodils and the odd lily, but only the taint of frilly hyacinths lingers in my olfactory memory.
I vaguely recall the early morning scramble to get to the church on time, but can only imagine my mother’s stress at getting three (one of which was unruly) children and herself ready for the weekly display. Although I do not recall any particular incident, I am sure that she lost her patience with me on many occasions. Photographs of me might suggest an angelic child, but everyone knows how easy it is to deceive a camera lens.
My dawdling during preparation and my fidgeting during services must have been an early manifestation of my inkling that there was something fishy about religion. My B.S. sensors developed at a young age; but I did not have the courage of my convictions until much later, when I was beyond my mother’s grip. I was fortunate not to have come of age during the Spanish Inquisition, rather during a time of liberal awakening.
All those that have flown to the Mediterranean to escape the usual cold, rainy Easter weather have prayed to the wrong god. The North Atlantic Oscillation is oscillating differently this year, with the Azores high as unruly as me on an Easter Sunday morn. Germany is enjoying better weather than Spain or Greece, bathed with unseasonal sunshine and warm temperatures. Nature always wins, even against the most entrenched religious belief...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.