2877Colorvision Uthoff, Hans RFirst Christmas trees and now the Easter Bunny. Did you know that most of the Easter traditions we celebrate in North America – egg decorating, Easter trees, Easter egg game and, of course, the chocolate Easter bunny, were brought over by German immigrants? In fact, the Easter celebrations in Germany are among the oldest and most traditional in the world.

And they start weeks before the four-day Easter weekend when the first markets open, selling Easter eggs and spring-themed local arts and crafts in surroundings that range from historic cities and castles to landscape parks. Towns decorate their fountains and trees with eggs and wind crepe paper around the branches. On Easter Eve bonfires are lit celebrating the new and getting rid of the old.

1763St. Wendel, Amt fur StadmarketingThe Haeferles Market in Nuremberg, in Franconia, is one of the oldest Easter Markets in Germany, and the first major event of the spring season. More than 80 stalls stand in the middle of the historic city centre, offering everything Easter, from hand-painted eggs to wooden decorations.

The Easter market in the medieval town of Wolfenbuettel, about two hours from Frankfurt, takes place in a royal surrounding – the courtyard of the 18th-century castle that was residence of the Guelphs in the city centre. At least 60 artists and craftsmen from the region display their works on the weekend before Easter, then, on Easter Saturday, a huge rabbit emerges from an enormous nest and distributes candy to children. After the rabbit come the ducks, who are tossed into the river and race to the other side.

2878Colorvision Uthoff, Hans ROne of the largest Easter Egg Fairs in Germany takes place in Mannheim in the beautifully landscaped Luisenpark. The International Easter Egg Market at the Baumhainhalle hosts over 40 artists from Germany, Russia, France, Switzerland and Hungary.

Over on the border with Poland, the Sorbs, a Slavic minority that has lived for generations in an area called Lusatia, celebrate Easter with the “Kreuztritt” (Cross Walk) on Easter Sunday. The men of the village, dressed in traditional costumes of black jackets and top hats, ride horses in a circle from town to town announcing the resurrection of Christ. The Sorbs also are masters of the art of Easter egg painting. Sorbian artists from all over the region exhibit their skills during the Lenten season. The Egg Rolling and colourful Easter Market on Easter Sunday are wonderful highlights during the Easter weekend.