Easter in Germany is the time for colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, bonfires and spring cleaning.
The Easter Egg tree is a typical German custom
Look through the windows of a typical German household these days and you can’t help but notice how every room is decorated with clay bunnies, crocuses, yellow daffodils and branches hung with painted eggs.
Although mainly a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Easter also marks the beginning of spring. The Germans, of course, have a whole range of customs and traditions to celebrate the change of seasons in proper fashion.
A time for eggs and bunnies
Eggs and bunnies are two of the oldest symbols of Easter in Germany and every spring shops boom with eggs and bunnies made of chocolate, cardboard or flowers in different sizes and wrappings.
The tradition for using eggs and bunnies for Easter originates from pagan worshipping where they were symbols of fertility and new birth and traditionally used for celebrations of the coming of the spring.
On Easter Sunday, children hunt for eggs and bunnies
It is also a custom that friends exchange the painted eggs as gifts or that young people in love paint eggs for their sweetheart.
Another typical German tradition is the Easter bonfire. On the night of Easter Sunday, the Germans light big bonfires across the country to welcome the sun and the spring. Much of the wood used for the bonfire is old Christmas trees which have been collected and saved for the occasion.
The Easter bonfire welcomes the spring and the sun
The Germans also have a tradition of having a big Easter dinner either Easter Sunday or Monday. Easter lamb, chicken and eggs are typical dishes for this meal, which in Catholic parts of Germany is also a celebration of the end of Lent.
Cleaning and walking
The spring traditions are, however, not all about eating, drinking and playing games. Another old German Easter custom is to give the house a thorough spring cleaning and get rid off the old dust which has gathered over the long winter months. And on Easter Monday, it is time for a bit of an exercise. Many Germans use the last holiday to go hiking in the mountains or walking in the forest.
The head of the Catholic Church has issued very strong words against the Vatican's bureaucracy. At a Christmas meeting, he said members of the clergy were "amassing material goods, not out of need, but to feel safe."
Nicaragua's canal project is intended to lift the country to greatness. But for this, paradoxically, President Daniel Ortega is prepared to surrender a degree of national sovereignty. The project also has many critics.
At least 10 people have been injured after a van drove into shoppers in Nantes, France. The driver is said to have shouted "Allahu Akbar" before carrying out the attack, the second such incident within days.