Easter is a Christian Holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The bible says that he rose from the dead, three days after he was crucified by Romans. Nowadays, Easter is popular even by non-Christians and commercially important, too. A lot of customs and traditions were built around this holiday. We’ll introduce you to the most common Easter customs that are practised in Austria!
When is Easter celebrated in Austria?
The actual Easter season lasts fifty days, starting on Easter Sunday and ending on Pentecost Sunday. In Christianity, the date of the Easter weekend is set according to the lunar calendar, which changes from year to year. Hence, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon at the beginning of spring. This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 16. However, the week preceding it, known as the “Holy Week”, is dedicated to Easter preparations. Including Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper and is a day on which some Christians don’t eat meat, but only vegetables and herbs. One of the most important holidays of the Catholic Church is Good Friday. On this day, the church remembers the crucifixion of Jesus. Holy Saturday is regarded as the day of silent tomb. Easter Sunday is celebrated as the day of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter Monday is the last holiday of the Easter week. In the year 2017, the Easter Sunday is on the 16th of April.
The Easter bunny is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter in Austria. Parents tell their children that the Easter Bunny brings an Easter basket on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this basket is filled with dyed hard-boiled eggs and sweet treats like chocolate eggs or rabbits. The children have to find their Easter Baskets that are hidden all over the house and garden.
Easter Eggs are another very popular symbol of Easter and for Christians they are a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave. There are many traditions built around Easter eggs. However, the most important one is that the dying and decorating of the eggs a few days before Easter.
Besides the Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday, another popular custom is using them for an egg tapping contests: that’s a game where one participant holds a hard-boiled egg and taps the egg of another person with their own egg – without breaking it. The owner of the egg that’s still whole wins.
Easter eggs are also used for decorating branches of trees and brushes in the garden or hung on cut branches inside. Those eggs are either mouth-blown if they are handmade, or made of plastic if you buy them at a store.
The bible says that the crowd welcomed Jesus with palm branches when he came to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter). Due to the lack of palm branches, Austrians use pussy willows. They are blessed on Palm Sunday and then used for decorating one’s home.
In some catholic areas, especially in the countryside, all church bells stop chiming from Maundy Thursday to Holy/Black Saturday. Instead, children walk through the town making noises with instruments made from wood (the so called “Ratschen”) and reciting special poems.
We wish you Happy Easter and a good time with your family and friends!