PART 1: Palm Sunday to Easter Monday
The blessing of Easter baskets, I was delighted to learn, are also practiced in the Austrian Catholic churches. I grew up with Holy Week in the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox churches being my absolute favorite week of the year (we celebrated both). Even more so than Christmas! And I loved helping prepare the Easter basket. It’s very similar to what my Austrian friends and family practice:
- Paska (a yeast bread) — Christ, Our Bread of Life
- Eggs — New Life and the Resurrection of Christ
- Horseradish — The Passion of Christ
- Bacon — God’s Mercy (go ahead bacon lovers, laugh. I did.)
- Cheese — the moderation that Christians should show in all things
- Salt — The duty of Christians to others
- Ham — The great Joy and abundance of Easter
- Butter — The Goodness of Christ
Instead, children walk through the villages with so-called “ratchets”, wooden rattling instruments which they make a racket with while calling out traditional blessings. (By the way, I have just added Maundy Thursday in Sevilla to my bucket list, as I have heard that the processions there is–without a doubt–the most impressive in the world.)
Easter Festival Tirol is one of the most prestigious and recognized Easter festivals in German speaking countries.
Every year, concerts, dance performances and passion music are presented over a two-week period. In Erl, the oldest German Passion Play is performed every six years. Around 600 amateur actors from the local community actively participate in the play that depicts the crucifixion of Christ. It’s incredibly moving. Bring tissues.
Easter Monday is a public holiday. Some Austrian and German areas celebrate by taking a hike to the next pilgrimage chapel or church, accompanied by prayers and songs.