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Travel

Beyond eggs and bunnies: Easter traditions in Germany

Easter is a day of celebration for Christians around the world and typically the year's most-attended Sunday service. Outside the churches, there are many more German customs to delight locals and tourists alike.

Easter traditions are particularly strong in the Oberlausitz in eastern Germany, which is home to a high number of Sorbs. People come from all over to see the Easter horse rides held there. This year, around 1,500 riders are expected to participate in the processions. Following tradition, Catholic men wearing top hats and tails ride decorated horses into the neighboring villages to announce the joyous news of Christ's resurrection.

Those traveling in the regions of Swabia and Franconia shouldn't be surprised to see Easter fountains. Decked in garlands made of boughs and colorful eggs, the villagers decorate the local fountains, often in the shape of a crown.

The fountain in Schechingen (pictured), a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, is one of the largest and most beautiful. It's decorated with around 12,000 painted chicken, goose and ostrich eggs. No one is certain of the origins of this tradition, but it's believed to have something to do with the veneration of water, which has always been considered a symbol of life.

Fire, too, is closely connected to the Easter Vigil. The lighting of the Easter fire marks the beginning of the solemn church service. But fires are not only lit by churches. In mountainous regions, bonfires are often lit on the peaks where they can be seen from far and wide. In Lügde in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, tens of thousands turn up to watch huge flaming wheels roll down into the valley.

ey/ks/nr (kna, dpa)