After a long winter’s sleep, Bavaria comes alive. First with the crazy antics of Fasching or Carnivale, Germans are roused from their slumber with costumes and parades. Then, it’s time to get serious. In the Christian calendar, the 40 days prior to Easter is the season of Lent, a time for introspection and preparation for the resurrection of Christ on Easter. But Lent also features a bit of excitement for people who have been steeped in dormant fields and grey skies for many weeks. The longer daylight hours and warmer temps encourage buds and fields to come alive with the newness of life. And so, the treasured Easter Egg is alive and chirping in Bavaria this time of year.
The decorated egg dates back 2,500 years to the Zoroastrians who painted eggs for their New Year celebration, which falls on the spring equinox. Easter eggs are a popular symbol of new life in the eastern part of Europe, particularly Romania and Poland, where artisans use a batik process to create intricate and brilliantly colored eggs. Many families in Germany still decorate a tree outdoors with plastic pastel eggs but I’ve seen several families bring the celebration indoors with the hand-painted and carved eggs on sale at artisan festivals throughout Germany.
I visited the Erlangen Artisans Egg Festival a few weeks ago with some girlfriends. Most eggs were priced between 6 and 20 euros but some artisans had eggs that were miniature works of art and their creations commanded prices like those found in chic galleries. I purchased two new eggs for my collection and then concluded the day with a tasty German lunch.