Easter is coming and it’s time to put up the tree. For those thinking right now that trees are for an entirely different Christian holiday, you are both right and wrong. Even though trees may be more widely associated with Christmas, Easter trees are an increasingly popular and festive tradition that trace their roots to Germany.
The Easter tree is known as Ostereierbaum in Germany and is a centuries-old custom. Eggs are hung on outdoor tree branches and bushes or are placed on cut branches displayed inside. While the tradition is traced to Germany, German-influenced locales like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Pennsylvania Dutch region of the United States also are popular places for Easter trees to appear.
For 50 years, one person branched out with his own Ostereierbaum tradition. Volker Kraft decorated an apple tree on his property in the town of Saalfeld, Germany, adding more eggs each year as the tree grew larger. The tradition came to an end in 2015. At one point the tree held 10,000 eggs, all hand-crafted by Kraft and his family. However, a tree in Rostock, Germany held the Guinness World Record for tree with the most eggs – a display of 80,000.
While Easter trees are typically more modest than Kraft’s tree, the displays can be as large or as small as one desires. Many Easter trees consist of a few branches placed in a vase decorated with flowers, ribbons and Easter eggs. Pussy willow branches work well, though any branches can stand in.
When decorating Easter trees, families can use plastic eggs or even real ones. Using a sharp knife or needle, make two small holes in a raw egg. Blow out the inside of the egg until the shell is hollow. Then decorate the egg and thread a ribbon through the holes so it can be hung on the tree. If desired, place sweet Easter treats, such as chocolate eggs or pastel-colored cupcakes, under the Easter tree.
Decorating an outdoor tree also is possible and very visible. It can be a great way to share Easter blessings with others in the community.